By Jack Burns
Albert Szent-Györgyi discovered the chemical, ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C, in the 1930s. One of Vitamin C’s chief advocates, who won twice the Nobel (Chemistry and Peace), was Linus Pauling. Pauling advocated for high doses of Vitamin C to treat various illnesses, including cancer, but was ridiculed by doctors and scientists alike when he claimed it could help prevent cancer. In fact, an essay entitled “The Dark Side of Linus Pauling’s Legacy”, written by psychiatrist and anti-quackery advocate Stephen Barrett, M.D., claimed, “Pauling is largely responsible for the widespread misbelief that high doses of vitamin C are effective against colds and other illnesses.”
Barrett scoffed at the notion, even going so far as to conclude, “Pauling’s megavitamin claims lacked the evidence needed for acceptance by the scientific community, they have been accepted by large numbers of people who lack the scientific expertise to evaluate them.” Going even further, Barrett suggested, “Pauling’s irrational advice about supplements continues to lead people astray.”
Barrett’s conclusions about Pauling’s claims on Vitamin C now paint an entirely different picture. According to researchers from the University of Iowa, ascorbate, derived from Vitamin C, was successfully observed increasing hydrogen peroxide levels in cancer cells, which in turn had a toxic result with cancer cells, killing the cancer cells in lab rats yet not damaging normal cells in the process. The researchers concluded that Vitamin C might, indeed, be lethal to some cancers.
According to the scientists, “These results indicate that an in vivo measurement of catalase activity in tumors may predict which cancers will respond to pharmacological ascorbate therapy.” Once the exact cancers are identified, which are killed by vitamin C, the researchers concluded, “this information can also be used in finding combination therapies that may increase the efficacy of treatment for those tumors with higher catalase activities.” In other words, extremely high doses of the Vitamin C derivative may potentially be added to conventional cancer therapies to help kill more cancer cells.
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