There is much talk on the use of vitamin C (ascorbic acid), in it’s various forms, for cancer treatment in the “alternative” medical community. It’s use in conventional cancer care is routinely ignored.
In the spirit of full-spectrum care and rational analysis, let’s take a closer look.
Due to some interesting observations, focus on vitamin C for cancer is still alive and well in the research community. I’d like to separate the wheat from the chaff and give you some main points.
- Vitamin C, given by mouth, does not have direct anticancer effects on cancer cells. The concentration in the blood is too low following oral administration.
- Vitamin C is known as an anti-oxidant. While it is at lower doses, the anti-cancer effects at the needed super-doses are actually pro-oxidant. (For more on these concepts, click here)
- The way to create the doses needed (vaguely 1000 micromol/L in the blood) is by giving IV injections of the vitamin. There are published protocols of this having success in a few severe human cancer cases, put out by the Canadian Medical Association. These can be used with your veterinarian’s cooperation to formulate a plan.
- In 39 people with terminal cancer, a study found that quality of life improved combining IV and oral vitamin C (less pain, fatigue, nausea, and improved appetite).
- In a test tube, another study found that high doses of vitamin C killed cancer cells including lymphoma, mammary cancer, pheochromocytoma, kidney cancer, bladder cancer, lung cancer and glioblastoma cells.
- There is a concern that low (antioxidant) levels (like those achieved from vitamin C taken by mouth) may, at least theoretically, reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation.
- Vitamin C may increase the odds of certain kinds of urinary stones (calcium oxalates) and should not be used in patients with this problem.
What to make of all of this? When you are dealing with a life-threatening canine cancer, and your dog does not have calcium oxalate urinary stones, you should consider adding IV vitamin C to your dog’s treatment plan. This is especially true if your dog is not receiving chemo and radiation. Many more outside the box treatments can be found in The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.
Get your vet involved. Be your dog’s number one health advocate! Even if your canine companion does not experience a dramatic remission, there is at least evidence that quality of life may improve.
Best to all,
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.
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