Vitamin C can curb cancer growth, say New Zealand researchers

Published - July 26, 2010 01:21 pm IST - Wellington

The Indian gooseberry, popularly known as Amla, is a rich source of Vitamin C. Scientists in New Zealand have proved that this vitamin mitigates the growth of cancer cells. Photo: V. Raju

The Indian gooseberry, popularly known as Amla, is a rich source of Vitamin C. Scientists in New Zealand have proved that this vitamin mitigates the growth of cancer cells. Photo: V. Raju

Vitamin C can help curb the growth of cancer cells, according to New Zealand scientists who claim breakthrough research to provide the first real evidence of a connection between the vitamin and the development of tumours.

“Our results offer a promising and simple intervention to help in our fight against cancer at the level of both prevention and cure,” Associate Professor Margreet Vissers, of the University of Otago’s Free Radical Research Group, said recently.

She said the role of vitamin C in cancer treatment had been the subject of debate for years, with many anecdotal accounts of the vitamin’s beneficial role.

While her previous research had demonstrated the vitamin’s importance in maintaining cell health and hinted at its potential for limiting diseases such as cancer, the latest study looked at whether vitamin C levels were lowered in patients with endometrial tumours.

She said the study found that tumours were less able to accumulate vitamin C compared with normal healthy tissue and that this related to the ability of the tumour to survive and grow.

“Tumours with low vitamin C levels had more of a protein called HIF-1 which allows them to thrive in conditions of stress,” she said.

“The findings are significant as they show, for the first time, a direct relationship between HIF-1 and vitamin C levels in tumours and suggest it would be beneficial for people with cancer cells to have more vitamin C.” “This could help limit the rate of tumour growth, increase the responsiveness to chemotherapy and may prevent the formation of solid tumours.” Details of the research are published in the latest edition of the Cancer Research journal.

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