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Last Updated: 06/12/13

Spring 2013, Vol. 8 Issue 1


NCI grantee explores Vitamin C as potential cancer therapy


Although it is usually associated with oranges and possibly preventing colds, vitamin C may also be a potential cancer therapy. The history of vitamin C (also known as ascorbate) and cancer spans a few decades, going back at least to the 1970s. Early experiments using high doses of vitamin C supplements and intravenously administered vitamin C suggested that vitamin C may help treat cancer. Follow-up experiments using only vitamin C supplements found no beneficial effects on cancer and scientists lost interest in researching this vitamin as cancer therapy. However, this issue was revisited in the mid-1990s when studies suggested that orally and intravenously administered vitamin C are not processed the same way in the body. Researchers discovered that when vitamin C is administered intravenously at high doses, resulting concentrations in the blood are much higher compared to vitamin C that is taken orally. Subsequently, a number of studies have been published indicating that high-dose (pharmacological) vitamin C may in fact help kill cancer cells and research is continuing in this area. Dr. Joseph Cullen of the University of Iowa has recently been awarded a U01 research grant* from the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, to investigate pharmacological ascorbate used along with radiation in pancreatic cancer. Read More…

NCI CAM News is produced by the Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (OCCAM). The Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (OCCAM) was established in October 1998 to coordinate and support the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) activities related to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). OCCAM also serves as a focal point for NCI’s collaboration with other governmental and non-governmental organizations on cancer CAM issues.

For inquiries on CAM and cancer, call 1-800-4-CANCER or visit

Contact Information

Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine
9609 Medical Center Drive
Bethesda, Maryland 20892

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