Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which is a class of molecule that is known to help prevent cancer by removing oxygen-free radicals from the body. However, researchers in the United States have recently discovered that taking a vitamin C supplement while undergoing chemotherapy may actually reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs.

Such forms of cancer that may be affected by vitamin C include mesothelioma, lung cancer, and many other types of cancer. Patients going through mesothelioma treatments should especially be concerned because attaining positive results from any kind of therapy is hard enough as it is.

The study was carried out by Dr Mark Heaney and colleagues of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York, and was recently published in the journal Cancer Research.

To get these results, the researchers took human cancer cells and grew them in vitro with vitamin C, and then added chemotherapy drugs to see if the addition of vitamin C had any effect.

What they found was that when vitamin C was added, the chemotherapy drugs killed between 30% and 70% fewer cancer cells than when vitamin C was not added.

The researchers also implanted mice with human cancer cells, and then gave the mice vitamin C before treating them with chemotherapy. In the mice that were given vitamin C, the tumors grew at a more rapid pace.

The chemotherapy drugs used in the experiments were Cisplatin, doxorubicin, methotrexate, vincristine, and gleevec. All of these drugs work in different ways to kill cancer cells. Of the results, Dr Mark Heaney said, “The vitamin C didn’t neutralize the effects of the chemotherapy drugs, but it blunted their effects. Vitamin C is something everyone needs to have in their diet or you can develop scurvy. But I don’t recommend taking supplemental vitamin C during that period of time that my patients are receiving chemotherapy.”

Content provided by Mesothelioma Cancer Center