Vitamin C hastens brain tumour's death

Showering brain cancer cells with vitamin C softens them up for radiation therapy and hastens their death.

Patries Herst from the University of Otago, with Melanie McConnell investigated how combining high dose vitamin C with radiation affected the survival of cancer cells isolated from brain tumours, and compared this with the survival of normal cells.

They found that a high dose of vitamin C by itself caused DNA damage and cell death which was much more pronounced, especially before radiation, the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine reports.

Herst says brain cancer patients have a poor prognosis because these tumours are aggressive and very resistant to radiation therapy.

"We found that high dose vitamin C makes it easier to kill these cells by radiation therapy," says Herst, according to an Otago statement.

She says there has long been a debate about the use of high dose vitamin C in the treatment of cancer. High dose vitamin C specifically kills a range of cancer cells in the lab and in animal models.

"If carefully designed clinical trials show that combining high dose vitamin C with radiation therapy improves patient survival, there may be merit in combining both treatments for radiation-resistant cancers, such as glioblastoma multiforme," says Herst.

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