MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

You probably guessed: this is the headline of a new WDDTY articleWDDTY tell us that they provide “information on complimentary therapies and alternative medicines” (I don’t want to sound snobbish, but I have my doubts about people who don’t even know how to spell their subject area). As the actual article in question (on vitamin C for cancer, a subject we have discussed on this blog before here and here) is quite short, I might as well show you its full beauty:

START OF QUOTE

High-dose vitamin C does kill cancer—but only when it’s given intravenously. It’s now just a few steps away from being approved as a safe and effective cancer treatment alongside chemotherapy and radiation.

Although researchers have tested the vitamin as a cancer therapy many times, they almost always concluded that it was ineffective—but they were guaranteeing failure by giving it orally to patients.

When it’s given intravenously, it bypasses the gut and goes directly into the bloodstream—where concentrations of the vitamin are up to 500 times higher than when it’s taken orally—and targets cancer cells, say researchers at the University of Iowa.

The therapy is now going through the approval process, and could soon be available as an alternative to chemotherapy or radiation, the two conventional cancer treatments.

It’s been proved to be effective in animal studies, and phase 1 trials have demonstrated that it’s safe and well-tolerated.

Now doctors at the university are starting to use it on patients with pancreatic cancer and lung cancer, and are measuring their progress against other patients who will continue to be given chemotherapy or radiation.

Biologist Garry Buettner, who works at the university, has worked out just why vitamin C is so effective: the vitamin breaks down quickly in the body, and generates hydrogen peroxide that kills cancer cells. “Cancer cells are much less efficient in removing hydrogen peroxide than normal cells, so cancer cells are much more prone to damage and death from a high amount of hydrogen peroxide”, he explained. “This explains how very, very high levels of vitamin C do not affect normal tissue, but can be damaging to tumour tissue.”

END OF QUOTE

According to the author, these amazing claims are based on one single source: a Medline-listed article with the following abstract:

Ascorbate (AscH) functions as a versatile reducing agent. At pharmacological doses (P-AscH; [plasma AscH] ≥≈20mM), achievable through intravenous delivery, oxidation of P-AscH can produce a high flux of H2O2 in tumors. Catalase is the major enzyme for detoxifying high concentrations of H2O2. We hypothesize that sensitivity of tumor cells to P-AscH compared to normal cells is due to their lower capacity to metabolize H2O2. Rate constants for removal of H2O2 (kcell) and catalase activities were determined for 15 tumor and 10 normal cell lines of various tissue types. A differential in the capacity of cells to remove H2O2 was revealed, with the average kcell for normal cells being twice that of tumor cells. The ED50 (50% clonogenic survival) of P-AscH correlated directly with kcell and catalase activity. Catalase activity could present a promising indicator of which tumors may respond to P-AscH.

The author of the WDDTY article is Bryan Hubbard. I did not know this man but soon learnt that he is actually the co-founder of WDDTY. He may not know how to spell ‘complementary medicine’ but he certainly has a lot of fantasy! His latest drivel on vitamin C for cancer seems to prove it. He seems to have the ability to extrapolate from the truth to a point where it becomes unrecognisable. The claims he makes in his article in question certainly are in no way supported by the evidence he provided as his source.

This could be trivial; yet sadly, it isn’t: WDDTY is read by many members of the unsuspecting public. Some of them might have cancer or know someone who has cancer. These desperate patients are likely to believe what is published in WDDTY and might be tempted to act upon it. In other words, the totally misleading articles by Hubbard put lives at risk – and that I cannot find trivial!

What doctors don’t tell you is not what WDDTY suggest; doctors don’t tell you that vitamin C reverses cancer because it is not true. In view of this and other evidence, perhaps the acronym WDDTY is not the best for this publication? Could I perhaps suggest to ‘Hubbard and Co’ another abbreviation? How about MIFUC (MisInformation From Unethical Columnists)?

[yes, I know, I was tempted to chose another noun for the ‘C’, but I resisted!]

24 Responses to Vitamin C does reverse cancer—and now it’s on track for approval as a chemo alternative

  • “Complimentary” Ha!
    But this might not be a mistake.

    “Complimentary Medicine” is a neologism I have devised (May 2016), suggesting it is a more honest term than ‘complementary’, as the latter does not complete any orthodox treatment and is not complementary at all.

    ‘Complimentary medicine’ provides flavour but no effect otherwise. Style but no substance. Nice to have, but no recognisable medical effect (other than pleasure from placebo effects).
    As I explain in ‘Real Secrets of Alternative Medicine’ and in the glossary at http://www.placedo.co.uk.

    Nice to see WDDTY using my new terminology.
    Perhaps they are now trying to be more honest.

  • I don’t even think it’s snobbish to point out such a silly and easily avoidable mistake. Even these people must at least be aware that there are some words that are, for some, difficult to spell, like ‘accommodation’ (does quick check to see if he got it right himself), or words which sound the same but are different( (‘their/there’ happens with distressing frequency nowadays).
    It has the effect of making people think about what else they can’t be bothered to get right. Which kind of dovetails with Richard Rawlins’ comment.

  • the vitamin breaks down quickly in the body, and generates hydrogen peroxide that kills cancer cells

    Gee, would not it be faster to just get a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and go for direct injections into the tumour?

    I am not a doctor!

  • @Ernst

    “How about MIFUC ( Misinformation From Unethical Columnists)?”

    You are late. This label is already provided to you. But you may have to come up with many more. Wait for the out come!

    https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/trump-meets-with-rfk-jr-to-discuss-vaccine-safety/

  • And if intravenous vitamin C was approved it would become chemotherapy so would have to be hated by the woo crowd 😉 Well it would if they had any sort of logic to their approach.

  • Woo Distributors Disseminating Tosh to You?

  • “It’s now just a few steps away from being approved as a safe and effective cancer treatment alongside chemotherapy and radiation” and “The therapy is now going through the approval process, and could soon be available as an alternative to chemotherapy or radiation, the two conventional cancer treatments.” While I’m all for clinical trials to show whether high-dose i.v. ascorbic acid as a means of delivering free radicals to tumor cells is effective in the treatment of cancer or not, it would take years of human studies before either statement could possibly be true.

  • “Complimentary medicine” should do wonders for the budgets of health insurers!

  • Sadly I saw essentially the same story in my facebook feed today, but from a different media outlet – the University of Iowa’s media group, from 2014. http://medcom.uiowa.edu/medicine/vitamin-c-revival/ I’m not sure if it’s good or bad that my friend has has removed the post. I don’t know how he saw it.

  • There are about two hundreds of disease under the name of cancer, if vitamin C can cure the cancer whay there are any reason to use chemotherapy and radiation, even in Cuba, a poor country, there are no reason for genetic scientific research everywhere about cancer. I think we must have cautious with papers we are reading and ask the doctor.

  • There’s a discussion of a similar claim about Vitamin C here: https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-return-of-the-revenge-of-high-dose-vitamin-c-for-cancer/
    As usual Vitamin C did not work as an IV therapeutic agent in that case, but in the unblinded trial it was reported that adding IV vitamin C produced somewhat less side effects.

    The trial the current reports are based on is Phase 1 measuring safety, not Phase 3 measuring therapeutic benefit. As often happens they are counting their chickens before they are hatched.

  • My husband’s cousin works in a clinic in New Zealand where intravenous Vitamin C is used to treat cancer patients, with some remarkable results.
    This woman is a trained nurse, and by no means a hippy type or into Woo stuff.
    I am a subscriber to WDDTY, but that just means I am open-minded; anyone interested in their own health should be, too.
    The Pharma industry is making trillions of dollars promoting unsafe, poorly tested and/or ineffective drugs every year.
    I refer you to the
    excellent book ‘Bad Pharma’ by DOCTOR Ben Goldacre, which exposes the dirty tricks these companies use to sell their products.
    I certainly don’t swallow ‘headline articles’ whole – in any publication – but in a world where all parties are competing for attention, one needs to drill down to unearth facts.
    As for ‘complimentary’….don’t get me started!!

  • My husband’s cousin works in a clinic in New Zealand where intravenous Vitamin C is used to treat cancer patients, with some remarkable results.

    Before we can consider your husband’s cousin’s claim of “remarkable results” we need to see credible evidence for it. Vitamin C has been tested extensively for cancer, not the least by independent researchers on Linus Pauling’s claims and it failed consistently. There are no confirmed cases of cure or remission by such treatment anywhere. There is also no biological mechanism by which it should or could work.
    Today’s confirmed knowledge is that it is absolutely useless.
    For explanations as to why your husband’s cousin is fooled to believe otherwise, read this.

    This woman is a trained nurse, and by no means a hippy type or into Woo stuff.

    Intravenous Vitamin C for cancer is by definition “Woo stuff”. Nurse training does not qualify for determining or evaluating the results of cancer treatment.

    I am a subscriber to WDDTY, but that just means I am open-minded; anyone interested in their own health should be, too.

    WDDTY is the opposite of a reliable source of information. Please do your research.

    The Pharma industry is making trillions of dollars promoting unsafe, poorly tested and/or ineffective drugs every year.

    This sentence is naively fallacious. The shortcomings of the pharmaceutical industry or medicine, does not excuse defrauding cancer patients with disproven therapies.

    I refer you to the
    excellent book ‘Bad Pharma’ by DOCTOR Ben Goldacre, which exposes the dirty tricks these companies use to sell their products.

    Before you get all worked up about “Bad Pharma” Why don’t you read Ben Goldacre’s other book “Bad Science” and his other works with scathing criticism of fake medicine such as iv Vitamin C for cancer?

    I certainly don’t swallow ‘headline articles’ whole – in any publication – but in a world where all parties are competing for attention, one needs to drill down to unearth facts.

    Good for you. But in the current context you should take your own advise and drill in other places than WDDTY and similar junk science promotion sites.

    As for ‘complimentary’….don’t get me started!!

    Please see the first comment in this thread before you loose your composure.

  • This is kind of a necropost, so I apologize, but the following point I think has been misrepresented and has not been addressed in any of the above comments. I’ve become closely involved with hundreds of practitioners who use IVC (intravenous vitamin c) for cancer, and the luminaries in this field actually don’t recommend IVC as an “alternative medicine” but recommend using IVC in conjunction with conventional chemo chemistries (as an integration instead of as an alternative) and in fact doing both is the preference because in most cases IVC potentiates the chemo while addressing a host of Quality of Life factors associated with chemo (just as DavidP said above, “IV vitamin C produced somewhat less side effects”). There are at least 14 studies demonstrating that IVC doesn’t diminish the efficacy of conventional chemo, while helping quality of life, and here are the pubmed numbers if you wish to look them up:
    1962586
    10559547
    10067654
    15523102
    17283738
    8635156
    PMC5755977
    17405678
    PMC3260161
    17367938
    15514298
    PMC3128375
    PMC5598450
    PMC3482496

    A careful analysis of all IVC tests leading up to these revelations profoundly demonstrates how potentiating factors (redox, dose, duration, pro-H2O2 factors, and ATP considerations) were *inadvertently* sabotaged in those tests which did not demonstrate a substantial benefit for the experiment grouping. I don’t think there was anyone to blame … just turns out that the pharmacokinetics, and stability issues with IVC solution, are much more interesting and critical than anyone thought. In one case as I recall patients were given sugary soft-drinks during administration which would have completely sabotaged the ATP depletion in cancer cells which is one of the primary cancer killing mechanisms of IVC.

    It is unfortunate that there are many who tout IVC as a replacement for conventional chemo, but among those in the conventional field experiencing excellent results they use them integratively and intelligently with respect to related potentiating factors that will maximize results. The preference by luminaries in the field of IVC is also to recommend IVC as a palliative integration rather than for cancer-killing purposes, for which palliative effects of IVC are well known and are largely uncontested by even the most ardent IVC critics. Here’s a link to a bunch of peer reviewed studies (pubmed numbers) all demonstrating astonishing palliative benefits of IVC:
    24500406
    22021693
    PMC2693571
    PMC4199254
    PMC3691494
    26168394
    14606098
    PMC5107231

    Whatever beef you’ve had with Pauling, at least you can be happy in the fact that the pharmacokinetics of IVC have recently been discovered to be VERY different than Pauling assumed, and in fact his theories on the matter sent IVC science down a counter-productive rabbit hole which has taken nearly 40 years from which to recover. Associating him with IVC science today doesn’t make a ton of sense because the science is so different than he thought, as are the methods whereby it is made effective. As I understand it there is a substantial book in the work on the topic that will address all these issues that should be published by years end. Therein you’ll find the 100’s of peer reviewed citations you crave, and no mention of Pauling, but in the meantime you will find that a quick search in the medline index will also produce these results and you will in fact discover a huge increase in the number of those IVC studies over the past 10 years, the rate increasing each year, mostly done by the medical research institutions that you most respect, and most all of them demonstrating how to make IVC effective especially as it is used to improve conventional chemo.

    • @Robert Davis
      I had a look at a handful of your references at random and was mildly speaking underwhelmed. Much of what I saw can be described as naive guesswork and wishful thinking published in more or less dubious journals. Many could not be considered recent and a majority had no real relevance to the subject and your implied calim. One looked suspiciously like it might have been totally made up.
      I gave up after a while and concluded that you not only seemed to be taken in by a mostly debunked* fad but also(surprisingly perhaps ??)seem to lack the skillset and/or incentive to sort out what is valid and reliable evidence.

      *Here is the low-down. Note that this is written in 2017, long after much of your references were produced.

  • You’ve prejudged me there, but never mind that. I rejoice in that your position is that of the Mayo Clinic (“*Here is the low-down [linked to Mayo Clinic]. Note…”. They’re firmly in the camp that the matter is undecided and needs more testing (“Until clinical trials are completed, it’s premature to determine what role intravenous vitamin C may play in the treatment of cancer.”) LET’S GET STARTED!

    That’s all I’m saying. When we have a study like PMC3482496 that demonstrably increases Gemcitabine’s speed at killing cancer cells by a factor of 8, while offering greater protection to normal cells, the healthcare professional’s obligation is to either validate or invalidate it, not impugn the study from their ivory tower as “naive guesswork and wishful thinking” (a position supported no more proof than your preconceived biases). If these results haven’t always translated to in vivo, then as a member of that publically entrusted organization *you* owe it to the public to figure out why it didn’t whenever it didn’t *before* you throw it under the bus. When pharma researchers have anomolies in the translation from the petri dish to the human body they don’t give up. They figure out why and then make adjustments … because an 8X improvement in that petri dish matters. That’s how development is done. LET’S GET STARTED!

    Even if we presume, as does the Mayo Clinic that IVC’s main benefit is QoL, then let’s run with it. When did QoL become unimportant? While trials proceed through phase 3 or 4 (as the FDA dictates) to decide the matter on cytotoxicity let’s improving selectivity, lower pain and fever, decrease bleeding, improve breathing and organ function, decrease nausea and vomiting, improve bowel function, and improve sense of well-being and mood. Stronger healthy-feeling patients fight better than weak & despondent cancer patients and killing all cancer cells is only half of the cure, recovery is the other half … there is substantial agreement that IVC can help there – including the Mayo Clinic. LET’S GET STARTED!

    It’s what the Mayo Clinic supports. How about you?

    • @Robert
      Your enthusiasm is admirable but it is getting the way of coherency and common sense . The paper that seems to exhilarate you so profoundly is from 2011 (7 years is a long time in this context) and describes an in vitro study! Do you know what that means? Very simply put, it is pouring the stuff on cancer cells in a petri dish. If you pour alcohol on them they will die. That does not mean you can use alcohol to cure cancer. You can use in vitro studies to produce good ideas (hypotheses) but very few of them turn out to be clinically useful.
      Perhaps you should read up on how cancer therapy is developed and tested and try to understand that the relevance of in vitro experiments to clinically useful therapies is extremely low.
      Later phase I and II research on the possibly potentiating effects of ascorbic acid on Gemsitabine and other chemotherapy has not upheld the enthusiasm generated by the initial in vitro studies that are exciting you to no end and have led you to produce no less than three naively capitalised ejaculations in your latest comment.

      If surplus ascorbic acid should turn out to be a catalyst of the anti-cancer effects of Gemsitabine, that would of course be absolutely brilliant. But the evidence hitherto is not telling us that this is likely. This is what the guarded optimism in the Mayo article is all about. Since there still is some hope, as the Mayo article indicates, first it has to be properly studied and tested. This will take time. What has been done hitherto does not promise any miracles. I suggest that while you are waiting for your favourite horse to win the race, you read Siddharta Mukherjee’s excellent book The Emperor of all maladies: A biography of cancer Perhaps you will get a grasp of what it takes to find and develop a cancer remedy?

      • I’m sure you’ll agree that data doesn’t become less relevant over time, furthermore the fact that nothing has been followed up on this one study is pretty damning of the research community. I think 7 years should be enough time to dig a little deeper don’t you?

        And in fact, I’m not just relying on old studies … This popped up on my radar today (see below)… 3 IV research papers published just last month. It’s a tiny sample of what is happening every month, but you’re kidding yourself if you think the work isn’t being done and that mighty strides haven’t been made:

        1. Intravenous Vitamin C for Cancer Therapy – Identifying the Current Gaps in Our Knowledge.
        Carr AC, Cook J.
        Front Physiol. 2018 Aug 23;9:1182. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.01182. eCollection 2018. Review.
        PMID: 30190680 [PubMed]

        2. Anticancer effects of high-dose ascorbate on canine melanoma cell lines.
        Shin H, Nam A, Song KH, Lee K, Rebhun RB, Seo KW.
        Vet Comp Oncol. 2018 Sep 6. doi: 10.1111/vco.12429. [Epub ahead of print]
        PMID: 30188000 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

        3. Ascorbic Acid in Cancer Treatment: Let the Phoenix Fly.
        Shenoy N, Creagan E, Witzig T, Levine M.
        Cancer Cell. 2018 Aug 13. pii: S1535-6108(18)30320-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2018.07.014. [Epub ahead of print] Review.
        PMID: 30174242 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

        But IVC research is resource constrained. Can’t be done without investment, like the investment made into FOLFIRINOX … blurb arrived in my mailbox today …seems it improved outcomes for pancreatic cancer by a huge factor (https://goo.gl/zJZigC). Exciting news! I’m guessing probably $400M into R&D and trials to date, maybe more. Will all be recouped within the next 5 years or so. No such financial incentive for IVC, but we’re not really in it for the money are we?

      • A colleague recommended that book to me as well, I think a year or two ago. Or maybe I read about it, book review or something. Anyway, I’ll give it a gander. Thanks for the recommendation.

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