Vitamin C inhibits tumor growth; Study shows

ScienceDaily— Nearly 30 years after Nobel laureate Linus Pauling famously and controversially suggested that vitamin C supplements can prevent cancer, a team of Johns Hopkins scientists have shown that in mice at least, vitamin C – and potentially other antioxidants – can indeed inhibit the growth of some tumors ¯ just not in the manner suggested by years of investigation.

The conventional wisdom of how antioxidants such as vitamin C help prevent cancer growth is that they grab up volatile oxygen free radical molecules and prevent the damage they are known to do to our delicate DNA. The Hopkins study, led by Chi Dang, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine and oncology and Johns Hopkins Family Professor in Oncology Research, unexpectedly found that the antioxidants’ actual role may be to destabilize a tumor’s ability to grow under oxygen-starved conditions. Their work is detailed in Cancer Cell.

“The potential anticancer benefits of antioxidants have been the driving force for many clinical and preclinical studies,” says Dang. “By uncovering the mechanism behind antioxidants, we are now better suited to maximize their therapeutic use.”

The Johns Hopkins investigators discovered the surprise antioxidant mechanism while looking at mice implanted with either human lymphoma (a blood cancer) or human liver cancer cells. Both of these cancers produce high levels of free radicals that can be suppressed by feeding the mice supplements of antioxidants, either vitamin C or N-acetylcysteine (NAC).

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health.  Authors on the paper are Dean Felsher of Stanford; and Gao, Huafeng Zhang, Ramani Dinavahi, Feng Li, Yan Xiang, Venu Raman, Zaver Bhujwalla, Linzhao Cheng, Jonathan Pevsner, Linda Lee, Gregg Semenza and Dang of Johns Hopkins.
Read more at the Science Daily.

Learn more about the Role of Vitamin C in the Functional Oncology Program.