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Vitamin C could give chemo a boost

Injected into mice, the supplement helped anticancer drugs shrink tumors

Vitamin C might complement chemotherapy as a cancer treatment. Very high doses of the vitamin injected into mice attacked tumors and showed signs of working in synergy with chemotherapy drugs. Separately, in a safety trial, 13 women with ovarian cancer given chemotherapy plus high-dose infusions of vitamin C experienced less toxicity from chemo than did women not getting the vitamin.

The idea dates back at least to 1976, when chemist Linus Pauling reported that high doses of intravenous vitamin C given in addition to standard treatment to patients with advanced cancer  seemed to increase their survival time. But three years later, Pauling’s findings were countered by a Mayo Clinic study showing that vitamin C taken orally, which resulted in lower levels in the bloodstream, had no effect on cancer patients. While some doctors have continued to use it against cancer, vitamin C fell out of favor and evidence of its effectiveness against cancer is still lacking.

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