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The Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine Vol. 15, 4th Quarter 2000


Clinical Evaluation of Vitamin C and other Micronutrients in the Treatment of Cancer


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Over the great expanse of time during which therapies of various sorts were applied to cancer treatment, micronutrients and small molecules of various types have been used. In the early 1950s two clinical investigators in the United States exposed children with acute leukemia to selenium of unknown specific form, and published measured declines in leukemia cell number in the circulation. They stopped therapy due to inordinate toxicity. Vitamin C was studied at the Mayo Clinic in patients with ad- vanced colorectal cancer, and the published reports showed no change in tumor size or its natural history. Important points of criticism and clarification are required in interpreting these two examples, without which they may well be far from definitive trials of these particular agents as therapies.

On the other hand, beyond the context of formal clinical trials, many of these chemicals are used by a variety of practitioners on a regular basis. There is a large literature of published anecdotal cases claiming anti-tumor efficacy in a variety of settings. Although far from conclusive and although important details are missing, these observations cannot be dismissed.

The details of the cases in these two contexts, as well as the manner in which they are described and publicized, expose a significant rift within the world of alternative therapists that may be hampering ultimate determination of the efficacy and optimal use of Vitamin C and other micronutrients. Although attitudes are difficult to change, factual information and conventions of investigation (i.e. rules that are commonly accepted in order to prove something) may be a starting point.

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