Linus Pauling Revisited: Latest on Vitamin C and Cancer

Vitamin C treatment shows cancer promise

By Sophia Maines

Lawrence Journal World, Monday, July 3, 2006

As Sandy Kellar battles ovarian cancer, she’s noticing an unusual vitality in herself that she doesn’t see in others with the disease.

“I can be a grandma and play with those grandkids in the backyard and anything I want,” the Overland Park resident said.

Kellar attributes her energy to her twice-weekly intravenous vitamin C treatments, a therapy that is gaining followers and spurring new research, including a trial at Kansas University Medical Center.

Jeanne Drisko, medical director for the KU Medical Center’s Program in Integrative Medicine, is in the process of completing a multiyear, $375,000 trial of intravenous vitamin C in ovarian cancer patients. The study is funded by the Cancer Treatment Research Foundation, a nonprofit agency based in Schaumburg, Ill.

The study began in 2002 and enrolled its last patient in 2005. Women in the trial were given doses of vitamin C intravenously twice a week while also undergoing conventional chemotherapy treatment. Drisko declined to discuss the results until the trial is complete, but she said the therapy is safe.

“We haven’t had any adverse events,” she said. “We’re encouraged enough that we’re continuing.”

Once championed by Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling, vitamin C as a cancer treatment suffered a setback in the 1970s when the Mayo Clinic studied orally ingested vitamin C pills and found no effect on cancer patients, Drisko said.

“Everyone thought, ‘This is the definitive study,’” she said of the Mayo Clinic’s research.

But vitamin C pills are different from intravenous vitamin C.

“When you give it by vein, it’s like a drug,” Drisko said. “When you give it by mouth, it’s just a vitamin.”

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