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Vitamin C for Cancer

Ground-breaking research at Otago University, led by Prof Margreet Vissers and Assoc Prof Gabi Dachs, has identified new functions for vitamin C that suggest the vitamin may be a useful tool in cancer treatment. The research team is seeking funding for human trials to test this possibility.


Vitamin C Prof Visser and Assoc Prof Gabi Dachs
Professor Margreet Vissers (left) and Associate Professor Gabi Dachs.

Vitamin C has long been available as a cancer treatment, and there are reports of benefits in quality of life and even survival. However, without evidence for how it might work, the treatment remains controversial.

We currently don’t know which types of cancer could respond to vitamin treatment, how much vitamin C is needed, nor how long it should be given for. Good information is urgently needed to help doctors give good advice to patients!

Our research team at the University of Otago, Christchurch, has identified new functions of the vitamin that could explain how it works in cancer cells. The challenge is to show that these mechanisms work in patients with cancer. The team includes scientists and clinicians, and therefore has both opportunity and expertise to design and implement appropriate clinical studies to address these important clinical questions.

We are currently working on the following projects:

  • Carrying out the first human clinical studies to measure how vitamin C accumulates in human cancers following high-dose therapy.
  • Measuring the effects of vitamin C on slowing cancer growth and working on understanding mechanisms of action.
  • Applying these studies to projects investigating vitamin C in: Breast cancer, Bowel cancer, Brain cancer, Leukaemia, Endometrial cancer, Kidney cancer.

These studies need funding and money for Health Research is scarce. Funding applications from the team continue unabated, but the public sources of these funds are stretched, and it could take years to achieve success through this route. Now is the time for action.

"We're ready to go," Professor Vissers says. "We have all of the expertise in place, we have all of the collaborations in place. We would appreciate any support for these projects. Thank you!”


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