Vitamin C Targets and Kills Dangerous Cancer Stem Cells

According to a very exciting new study published in the journal Oncotarget, vitamin C may be up to 10 times more effective in killing dangerous cancer cells than an experimental drug. The study, led by Dr. Gloria Bonuccelli and conducted by researchers from the University of Salford in Manchester in the United Kingdom, offers remarkable evidence for the benefits of a safe, natural substance in the ongoing fight against one of the top killers worldwide.citrus-fruits_medium

Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling already demonstrated vitamin C to be a potent, nontoxic, anticancer agent—but the authors of this new study say their research is the first to provide strong evidence that vitamin C can specifically target and neutralize cancer stem cells.

Cancer’s Rising Threat

In terms of health fears, most of us would rate cancer near the top of the list. And it’s no wonder why, considering that cancer is the second leading cause of death and disease worldwide, accounting for almost 9 million deaths in 2015, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). This unforgiving disease, which causes immeasurable pain and suffering,

is on the rise, despite increasing knowledge of environmental and lifestyle risk factors. The global number of new cases of cancer are expected to grow by around 70 percent in the next 20 years. In the United States, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimate that almost 40 percent of U.S. men and women will have developed cancer at one point during their lives.

Worse yet, current therapies for cancer—chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation—are dangerous, toxic, and riddled with severe and debilitating side effects. Even when these therapies extend life, those who undergo them are too often left with lifelong negative impacts.

Further, the most aggressive forms of cancer simply do not respond well to treatment. One theory suggests it is because of cells known as cancer stem cells or cancer stem-like cells, which cause the cancer to return and spread despite treatment efforts.

The proven ability of vitamin C to kill these cancer stem cells, as shown in the University of Salford study, provides tremendous new hope in the fight against cancer.

Vitamin C Up To 10 times More Effective Than Experimental Drugs

 The University of Salford team tested seven different treatments for their effects against cancer stem cells:

  • Clinical drug stiripentol
  • Three experimental drugs (actinonin, FK866, and 2-DG)
  • Three natural substances (caffeic acid phenyl ester (CAPE), silibinin, and ascorbic acid (vitamin C)

The research focused on the process that enable cancer stem cells to live and multiply, testing the ability of the various substances to disrupt the metabolic processes of cancer stem cells and ultimately prevent their growth.

Among substances tested, actinonin and FK866 proved most effective at preventing cancer stem cells from growing. However, the natural substances also proved capable of preventing prevent the growth of cancer stem cells—and vitamin C was 10 times more effective at accomplishing this than the experimental drug 2-DG.

How Vitamin C Stops Cancer Stem Cells

What the study revealed is that vitamin C stops the growth of cancer stem cells by inhibiting glycolysis.

Glycosis is the process by which cells break down and use glucose in order to proliferate.

Dr. Michael P. Lisanti, professor of translational medicine at the University of Salford, says about the study, “We have been looking at how to target cancer stem cells with a range of papaya_facebooknatural substances including silibinin (milk thistle) and CAPE, a honey-bee derivative, but by far the most exciting are the results with vitamin C. Vitamin C is cheap, natural, nontoxic, and readily available so to have it as a potential weapon in the fight against cancer would be a significant step.”

Study leader Dr. Bonuccelli commented further, saying, “This is further evidence that vitamin C and other nontoxic compounds may have a role to play in the fight against cancer. Our results indicate it is a promising agent for clinical trials, and as an add-on to more conventional therapies, to prevent tumor recurrence, further disease progression, and metastasis.”