Vitamin C has been in the research and analysis field since the 1970s as a potential treatment for various cancers and gained attention in the management of malignancies in humans. Many of you must be aware of its detoxifying and skin rejuvenating properties, but its anticancer properties are also one of the major characteristics like other anticancer vitamins.
Numerous experimental studies have seen the capability of pharmacological doses of vitamin C individually or in combination with other chemotherapeutical medications to bring positive effects in the number of human cancer cell lines.
1. What is vitamin C?
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, also known with the name of ascorbic acid. Humans can’t produce vitamin C endogenously, therefore, this vitamin is considered an important dietary component.
The function of vitamin C
Vitamin C is very essential in performing many body functions.
- It is mandatory for the collagen, L-carnitine and many neurotransmitters biosynthesis. Collagen is an important component of connective tissues, exerts a pivotal role in wound healing and skin rejuvenation. L-carnitine is an essential amino acid for metabolism and neurotransmitters vital for brain signals that led all body functioning.
- It is a potent antioxidant, scavenging free radicals, detoxify the body, and also rejuvenates the other antioxidant in the body like vitamin E.
- It is also found to be beneficial for a strong immune system and reducing inflammation.
- Another important function of vitamin C is its anticancer property. Many reports found that cancer patients who are on intensive chemotherapy lack this vitamin. As we studied how important vitamin C for immunity, reducing inflammation and free radicals, perhaps supplementation of vitamin C can improve the health of cancer patients.
Evidence of vitamin C anti-cancer activities
As many pieces of evidence have been noticed regarding various other vegetables and spices in the context of managing the number of cancers, vitamin C has also shown to exerts certain associations.
There has been much evidence associated with vitamin C anticancer benefits but these have been conducted upon animals. But from a few past years, many studies have evaluated the significant role of vitamin C in human patients as well.
- In the outcomes of a meta-analysis of 37 studies, it was found that the total intake of vitamin C, including both dietary and supplementary associated with decreased risk of breast cancer by 15%, and only dietary intake of breast cancer by 23%.
- Another weak but positive relationship was also seen between supplementary and dietary intake of vitamin C and breast cancer. The women in this Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study took 106 mg vitamin C on average from diet and 60% of them had 350 mg/day supplemental vitamin C on average.
- In a recently updated literature on the impact of dietary vitamin C on prostate cancer also exhibits many positive outcomes.
- In one more analysis the role of natural vs. Synthetic vitamin C was assessed upon DNA damage induced by hydrogen peroxide. In results, it was seen that natural vitamin intake from sources like orange juice reduced the impact of H2O2-induced DNA damage.
So, it can be said that vitamin C has a significant impact on cancer prevention, especially dietary vitamin C. It might be connected with the bioavailability of vitamin C.
Bioavailability of vitamin C
Vitamin C is consumed in three ways: from food, as a food supplement and as a synthetic product (generally in the form of tab or intravenous injections). Chemically said, that vitamin C can be taken naturally or synthetically, and it has been found that vitamin C from natural sources absorbed more profoundly than the other one.
However, some clinical studies are not in favour of these statements. According to these clinical studies outcomes, the bioavailability of vitamin C from natural sources like kiwi, orange, or broccoli is the same as synthetic vitamin C.
It depends upon the physician, they will recommend you to have vitamin C supplementation as per your condition that how your body can take up vitamin C more efficiently.
“On general, vitamin C up to 2000 mg/day found to be safe for general consumption”
The next question that arises after being there in the body, how vitamin C curbs the cancer cells or reduces the risk of many cancer and malignancies.
The mechanism behind vitamin C anti-cancer activity
Since vitamin C known to controls certain processes, its activity also depends upon numerous different factors, for instance, cancer type or different signalling pathways involved in cancer progression.
# DHA Uptake Instead of Glucose
It is always seen that cancer cells show a significant dependency on glucose and glycolysis.
The vitamin C exploits the vulnerability of cancer cells on these two metabolic processes. Due to the structural analogy of DHA (oxidized form of vitamin C) and glucose, cancer cells have taken up DHA molecules, which further by generating specific molecular mechanisms creates energy crisis in tumour or cancer cells which become the reason for their death.
# Antioxidant activity
Many cancer cells due to abruption mitochondrial and increased metabolic rate, tend to have increased oxidative stress.
Vitamin C being a potent antioxidant helps to scavenge the formed free radicals, reduces the oxidative stress significantly, and restricts the formation or progression of cancer cells.
# Pro-oxidant activity
This prooxidant activity of vitamin C also helps to reduce the risk of various cancers. Vitamin C associated with improvement in iron absorption in the body that has been taken from non-heme iron sources. In the presence of redox-active ions of iron or copper, vitamin C acts as a prooxidant. VitaminC reduces the generation of hydroxyl radicals produced by these metal ions and prevents the progression of cancer by reducing cytotoxicity.
Along with these actions, vitamin C also tends to reduce inflammation.
Foods contain vitamin C
Now, this can be said that vitamin C also beneficial to reduce the risk of cancer along with other health conditions. Therefore, it is become important to take vitamin C regularly.
Sources of vitamin C:
Oranges, lemon, lime, kiwi, papaya, cruciferous vegetables, peppers, green and leafy vegetables like spinach and turnip greens, tomato, winter squash, and sweet and white potatoes, etc.
Eat healthily and be healthy. Live a healthy and clean lifestyle to keep yourself protected from cancer.