How Does Vitamin C Help with Cancer?

How Does Vitamin C Help with Cancer?

What is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C (or ascorbic acid) is a water-soluble vitamin.  Unlike most mammals, we humans don’t have the ability to make our own vitamin C when we need it, so we must get our vitamin C through our diet.

Cancer and Sugar

Otto Warburg Ph.D. (a German 1931 Nobel laureate in medicine) first discovered that cancer cells have a fundamentally different energy metabolism compared to healthy cells.  The crux of his Nobel thesis was that malignant tumours frequently exhibit an increase in anaerobic glycolysis — a process whereby glucose is used as a fuel by cancer cells with lactic acid as an anaerobic byproduct — compared to normal tissues, basically meaning cancer craves sugar.

How Does Vitamin C Work in Cancer?

The molecular shape of vitamin C is remarkably similar to glucose.  Cancer cells will actively transport vitamin C into themselves, possibly because they mistake it for glucose.

If large amounts of vitamin C are presented to cancer cells, large amounts will be absorbed.  In these unusually large concentrations, the antioxidant vitamin C will start behaving as a pro-oxidant as it interacts with intracellular copper and iron.  This chemical interaction produces small amounts of hydrogen peroxide.

Because cancer cells are relatively low in an intracellular antioxidant enzyme called catalase, the high dose vitamin C induction of peroxide will continue to build up until it eventually lyses (breaks) the cancer cell from the inside out.  This effectively makes high dose vitamin C a non-toxic chemotherapeutic agent that can be given in conjunction with conventional cancer treatments.  These tumor-toxic dosages can only be obtained by intravenous administration.

Figure 1: The Biological Basis of Intravenous Vitamin C Therapy

High doses of intravenous vitamin C generates hydrogen peroxide inside the cell.  Normal cells have the enzyme called catalase, which breaks the hydrogen peroxide down into the harmless components of water and carbon dioxide.  Cancer cells are deficient in the catalase enzyme, and so the cell cannot break down hydrogen peroxide.  The hydrogen peroxide builds up in the cell, eventually causing cell death.


** Please note that this is NOT medical advice and that you should talk to your healthcare provider before taking this supplement


If you’d like to sit down with me to discuss how intravenous vitamin C therapy could be beneficial for you, CONTACT ME HERE to set up a complimentary 15 min discovery call/meeting and we can get started.

What’s a discovery call/meeting?  It’s where we get to know each other better to ensure that I’m the right practitioner for you and that you have the opportunity to ask your questions about Naturopathic Medicine before we move forward with an initial Naturopathic consultation.


Here are a few more posts on cancer that you might also be interested in:





  • Verrax J & Calderon PB.  Free Radic Biol Med.  Pharmcologic concentrations of ascorbate are achieved by parenteral administration and exhibit antitumoral effects.  2009 Jul 1; 47(1):32-40.  Epub 2009 Feb 28.
  • Chen Q, Espey MG, Sun AY, Pooput C, Kirk KL, Krishna MC, Khosh DB, Drisko J & Levine M.  Proc Natl Acad Sci USA.  Pharmacologic doses of ascorbate act as a prooxidant and decrease growth of aggressive tumor xenografts in mice.  2008 Aug 12; 105(32):11105-11109.  Epub 2008 Aug 4.
  • Frei B & Lawson S.  Proc Natl Acad Sci USA.  Vitamin C and cancer revisited.  2008 Aug 12; 105(32): 1037-11038.  Epub 2008 Aug 5.




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