Vitamin C can help block the growth of cancer cells, found New Zealand researchers—a feat that could be quickly adopted into cancer treatment.
After much controversy over the role of vitamin C in cancer treatment, a team from Otago University at Christchurch have now shown that it has a role in controlling tumour growth.
They have said that their study of tumorous and normal tissue samples from women with cancer of the uterine lining, has given the first direct evidence of a link between vitamin C and a protein called HIF-1.
HIF (hypoxia inducible factor)-1 is considered a key protein in tumour survival.
High activity of it promotes tumour growth and resistance to chemotherapy and radiotherapy and is linked with a poor prognosis for patients.
The Christchurch study, led by Associate Professor Margreet Vissers, found that high-grade tumours had around 40 per cent less vitamin C than matched, adjacent, normal tissue.
The study suggests that restoring the vitamin C levels in tumours would limit factors that promote tumour growth, and recommend animal trials to test the hypothesis, say researchers.
Professor Vissers said the study indicated that it would be beneficial for people with cancer cells to have more vitamin C.
It could help restrict the rate of tumour growth, increase responsiveness to chemotherapy and might prevent formation of solid tumours.
"There''s enough information now for people to be seriously thinking about doing this, to apply this to the clinic or be setting up some clinical trials," the New Zealand Herald quoted her as saying.
"Anti-oxidant supplementation may not end up delivering any more vitamin C to the tumour. Just supplementing people may not actually have the effect that you want because you haven''t done it in the right way," said Vissers.
She said vitamin C levels in the body could be raised only to a certain level by oral supplementation. Intravenous injections could achieve a higher level.
The study has been published in leading international journal Cancer Research.