Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Vitamin C and Cancer

The structure of the antioxidant vitamin ascor...Image via Wikipedia
Vitamin C Facts

Vitamin C probably gained most of its attention from the work of the world renown Dr. Linus Pauling.  Vitamin C was then found to be especially useful in  boosting the immune system and shortening the duration and severity of colds and infections.  Vitamin C in some studies have been found to stimulate production of lymphocytes, an important component of the immune system which helps us fight colds, viruses and other infections. 

During  this time research was being done with the effects of large doses (12 grams/day) of vitamin C and cancer treatment.  Overall, it was found  that groups of cancer patients who received ascorbic acid lived nearly twice as long as groups that received no vitamin C supplementation.  This sounds like pretty good information and gives the average health conscious individual reason to increase vitamin C in the diet through foods and supplementation.(Shari Lieberman and Nancy Bruning, "The Vitamin and Mineral Book.") 

For a certainty though, laboratory research seems to proving that ascorbic acid can inhibit the growth of leukemia cells and increase the effectiveness of certain cancer drug regimens.  As mentioned earlier, Vitamin C  has been shown to strengthen the immune system and therefore enhances chemotherapy by strengthening the immune system. (Lieberman, S. and Bruning, N., "The Vitamin and Mineral Book")

Nitrates, Nitrites and Nitrosamines

Vitamin C has proven protective action against the carcinogenic activity of nitrates and nitrites.

Sodium nitrite is used as a preservative and antimicrobial agent in cured food.  Examples are hot dogs, bacon, ham and lunch meats.  Nitrites can be converted in to nitrosamines which are potent carcinogens. Nitrosamines blocks the process that results in the formation of nitrosamines and therefore is thought to block the formation of tumors that nitrosamines could form. (Lieberman, S. and Bruning, N., "That Vitamin and Mineral Book.")

Nitrosamines are not only found in foods but they are also found in cigarette smoke, water, pollution,  Vitamin C has been shown to be protective against the formation of nitrosamines  caused by these substances.  Since our body is under assault from these many substances, it certainly seems helpful to increase vitamn C intake.

Vitamin and the Skin

Many studies are showing that Vitamin C is effective in skin cream against aging as it is also a very potent antioxidant.  Just listening to TV commercials, one can see that many companies are adding Vitamin C to the skin care products claiming that they will slow down aging and wrinkling.   Some of the claims do have validity, for exampole, Vitamin C is necessary in collagen formation, which keep the skin supple.   Collagen production declines as we age. 

In Conclusion

Although we are hearing non-conclusive in studies regarding vitamin C's cancer treatment role, we can see from the current and past studies that Vitamin C supplementation would certainly be advantageous to us given that we do know for a certainty that the body is constantly under oxidative stress and Vitamin C can reduce some of the damage.
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