The selective anticancer properties of vitamin C are known since at least four decades. However, only recently in vitro studies have shown that vitamin C, in high enough concentrations, can efficiently and selectively kill a number of different human tumor cell lines, and these data have been confirmed in experimental animal tumor models. The first human clinical trials revealed that high doses of vitamin C administered by intravenous injection are not only very well tolerated but also substantially improve the quality of life of patients with clinically advanced cancer. However, the clinical evidence of the effectiveness of vitamin C in fighting off cancer is still controversial. The present chapter outlines the importance of vitamin C for a number of physiological functions, within the human body, and shows that there is a solid rationale for its use in the routine treatment of cancer, either alone or in combination with conventional treatment.
Part of the book: Vitamin C
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is an essential nutrient with a number of beneficial effects on the human body. Although the majority of mammals can synthesize their own Vitamin C, humans and a few other species, do not produce it and depend on dietary sources for their Vitamin C supply. Among its many effects on cell function and metabolism, Vitamin C has shown, in vitro, a powerful anticancer effect against a number of human tumor cell lines, including myeloid leukemia. There are many different mechanistic explanations for the anticancer/anti-leukemic effects of Vitamin C and the aim of the present review is to illustrate these mechanisms, showing the results of some preliminary in vitro investigations, and outlining their potential clinical relevance.
Part of the book: Myeloid Leukemia