The new research suggests vitamin C could be a safe, effective and inexpensive way to help boost treatments for ovarian and other cancers.
The US scientists have called for large-scale government trials of the treatment after publishing their findings in Science Translational Medicine.
Unfortunately, Pharmaceutical companies are unlikely to run clinical trials as vitamins can not be patented.
“Because vitamin C has no patent potential, its development will not be supported by pharmaceutical companies,” the study’s lead researcher Qi Chen told reporters.
“We believe that the time has arrived for research agencies to vigorously support thoughtful and meticulous clinical trials with intravenous vitamin C.”
It’s not the first time science has found the exemplary benefits of vitamin C in treating cancer.
Chemist Linus Pauling reported similar findings in the 1970’s, however clinical trials of vitamin C given orally failed to replicate the same effect and research was later abandoned
Since then it has been discovered that the human body quickly excretes vitamin C when taken orally. When given intravenously, on the other hand, vitamin C is absorbed into the body and can kill cancer cells without targeting the healthy, normal ones.
Researchers at the University of Kansas injected vitamin C into mice and patients with ovarian cancer cells. They found the ovarian cancer cells were sensitive to the vitamin C treatment while normal cells remained unharmed.
Working in tandem with chemotherapy drugs the treatment helped to slow tumour growth in the lab mice. When given to a small group of patients, they reported fewer side effects after having the vitamin C with their chemotherapy treatment.
Co-researcher Dr Jeanne Drisko told reporters there was growing interest in the use of vitamin C by oncologists.
“Patients are looking for safe and low-cost choices in their management of cancer,” she told BBC News. “Intravenous vitamin C has that potential based on our basic science research and early clinical data,” she said.