PHILADELPHIA In pre-clinical studies, vitamin C appears to substantially reduce the effectiveness of anticancer drugs, say researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
These new findings, published in the October 1 issue of Cancer Research, a publication of the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR), came from studying laboratory cancer cells and mice, but the study's authors say the same mechanism may affect patient outcomes, although they add this premise needs to be tested.
"The use of vitamin C supplements could have the potential to reduce the ability of patients to respond to therapy," said Heaney, an Associate Attending Physician at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Use of vitamin C during cancer treatment has been controversial. Some studies have suggested that because vitamin C is an antioxidant it might be beneficial to cancer patients. But some classes of chemotherapy drugs produce "oxygen free radicals," unpaired oxygen molecules that can fatally react with other molecules in a cell, forcing cell death. In this theory, vitamin C could sop up the radicals, keeping the cancer cell alive despite chemotherapy treatment.
Heaney and his colleagues tested a wide variety of chemotherapy drugs those that produce reactive oxygen and those that work in other ways on cancer cells in the laboratory, that were pretreated with dehydroascorbic acid (DHA), the form that ascorbic acid (vitamin C) takes to enter cells.
They found to their surprise that every chemotherapy drug they tested which included targeted agents like Gleevec did not work as well if cells were pretreated with vitamin C, as they did on untreated cancer cells. In the cell culture experiments, 30 to 70 percent less cancer cells treated with vitamin C were killed depending on the drug tested.
They then checked these findings by implanting the cancer cells into mice, and again found that, in an animal model sy
|Contact: Jeremy Moore|
American Association for Cancer Research