Prior research by the team at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland had found that the vitamin, alternately known as ascorbate, had the potential to kill cancer cells in the laboratory.
Research was conducted by breeding mice with inhibited immune systems and injecting them with human cancer cells. The cells rapidly converged to form large tumors and scientists responded by injecting vitamin C into the abdomen of the mice. Following the injection, tumor growth and weight decreased between 41 and 53% and did not spread rapidly. However, in untreated mice, the disease quickly spread to neighboring body parts.
The vitamin C dosage employed by researchers - up to four grams per kilo of bodyweight – far surpassed any amount that could be achieved using conventional vitamin pills, since the digestive tract only absorbs a fixed amount of the vitamin when taken orally.
Following successfully treatment of mice, scientists are now examining whether the same treatment could have comparable success for humans. Dr. Alison Ross from Cancer Research UK cautions that there is much more work to be done before Vitamin C can be considered a viable treatment for cancer.
According to Dr. Ross, although the work is encouraging, it is still in its infancy because it only involves cells grown in a lab and mice. There is no evidence from clinical trials in humans that injecting or consuming large doses of vitamin C will effectively treat cancer.