Vitamin C and cancer: what can we conclude--1,609 patients and 33 years later: comment on the article by Cabanillas.
Article Type: Letter to the editor
Subject: Vitamin C
Author: Saul, Andrew W.
Pub Date: 12/01/2010
Publication: Name: Puerto Rico Health Sciences Journal Publisher: Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Ciencias Medicas Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Ciencias Medicas ISSN: 0738-0658
Issue: Date: Dec, 2010 Source Volume: 29 Source Issue: 4
Product: SIC Code: 2833 Medicinals and botanicals
Accession Number: 244280055
Full Text: To the Editor:

It is a questionable assertion that we do not know how much vitamin C is effective against cancer (1). Indeed, we do know, and we are failing our duty to patients when we fail to recommend vitamin C as adjunctive cancer therapy. There are many controlled studies that demonstrate that vitamin C improves both length of life and quality of life. Positive studies have typically used between 10,000 and 100,000 mg intravenously. As Dr. Fernando Cabanillas correctly noted, success with 10,000 mg/day by IV was initially reported back in the 1970s by Cameron and Pauling. But Dr. Cabanillas has then omitted some key information. It is important to note that the negative, much-touted Moertel-Mayo studies were not true replications of Cameron and Pauling's work, as A) they used oral doses only, and B) vitamin C was discontinued at the first sign of disease progression. Would we administer injectable chemotherapy orally, and then discontinue chemotherapy if the patient worsened? No, we would administer it properly, and, if possible, stay with it.

Pauling and Cameron's work was promptly confirmed, first at Japan's Saga University by Murata et al. Dr. Murata employed over 30,000 mg per day and had even better results with terminally ill cancer patients (2). In the words of Dr. Louis Lasagna of the University of Rochester Medical School, "It seems indefensible not to at least try substantial doses of vitamin C in these patients" (3).

Many clinical reports from orthomolecular (nutritional) physicians including Dr. Hugh Riordan and colleagues do in fact indicate that IV vitamin C is effective. Says Dr. James A. Jackson, "Dr. Riordan's IV protocol (4) starts out at 15,000 mg intravenous ascorbate and slowly goes up. It is given twice a week. The IVs are continued until the post-IV vitamin C levels reach what our research established as the killing level of 350 to 400 mg/dL. This has been verified (5). Once this level is reached, the frequency of the IV may be reduced to once a week, or to one or two times a month."

Puerto Rican oncologist Victor Marcial, M.D., says:

"We studied patients with advanced cancer (stage 4). 40 patients received 40,000-75,000 mg intravenously several times a week. These are patients that have not responded to other treatments. The initial tumor response rate was achieved in 75% of patients, defined as a 50% reduction or more in tumor size ... As a radiation oncologist, I also give radiation therapy. Vitamin C has two effects. It increases the beneficial effects of radiation and chemotherapy and decreases the adverse effects. But this is not a subtle effect, is not 15-20%. It's a dramatic effect. Once you start using IV vitamin C, the effect is so dramatic that it is difficult to go back to not using it" (6).

There is no absolutely reliable cure for cancer. Conventional chemotherapy contributes only 2.1% to five year cancer survival in the USA (7). But with vitamin C, we are on the right track. It has been reported since McCormick in the 1950s (8-10) that cancer patients invariably have abnormally low levels of the vitamin. Vitamin C is vital to a cancer patient. What is dangerous is vitamin deficiency. What is even more dangerous is warning people off the very therapy that may help them, and frequently has been shown to make a significant difference.

Precisely how significant remains to be seen. But there are intriguing indications. Linus Pauling took 18,000 mg/day of vitamin C. Pauling died from cancer in 1994. Dr. Charles Moertel of the Mayo Clinic, critic of vitamin C, died of cancer the same year. Moertel was 66. Pauling was 93. Did vitamin C fail to cure Pauling's cancer? If so, then not taking vitamin C failed to cure Moertel's. Pauling lived 27 years longer with ascorbate than Moertel lived without it.

Andrew W. Saul, PhD

Editor, Orthomolecular Medicine News Service

Brockport, New York


(1.) Cabanillas F. Vitamin C and Cancer: What can we Conclude--1,609 Patients and 33 Years Later? P R Health Sci J 2010;3:215-217.

(2.) Murata A, Morishige, F, Yamaguchi H. Prolongation of survival times of terminal cancer patients by administration of large doses of ascorbate. Int J Vitam Nutr Res Suppl 1982;23:103-113.

(3.) Louis C. Lasagna Papers. Department of Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation. River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester. Available at: URL:

(4.) The Riordan IVC Protocol 2009. Bio-Communications Research Institute. Available at: URL: .

(5.) Padayatty SJ, Sun H, Wang Y, Riordan HD, Hewitt SM, Katz A, Wesley RA, Levine M. Vitamin C pharmacokinetics: implications for oral and intravenous use. Ann Intern Med 2004;140:533-537.

(6.) Dr. Victor Marcial. Available at: URL: watch?v=JbOXgG998fI.

(7.) Morgan G, Ward R, Barton M. The contribution of cytotoxic chemotherapy to 5-year survival in adult malignancies. Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol) 2004;16:549-560.

(8.) McCormick WJ. Cancer: the preconditioning factor in pathogenesis; a new etiologic approach. Arch Pediatr 1954;71:313-322.

(9.) McCormick WJ. Cancer: a collagen disease, secondary to a nutritional deficiency. Arch Pediatr 1959;76:166-71.

(10.) McCormick WJ. Have we forgotten the lesson of scurvy? J Applied Nutrition 1962;15:4-12.

Disclosure: Andrew W. Saul is Editor of the peer-reviewed Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, a non-profit and non-commercial newsletter. http://orthomolecular. org/resources/omns/index.shtml All members of the OMNS editorial review board, and the editor, serve without pay.
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