Jefferson University Hospitals

Safety of Vitamin C Infusions for Alleviating Symptoms of Cancer Treatment


Vitamin C infusion for cancer treatment

PHILADELPHIA – Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) infusions are currently used by cancer patients either in conjunction with chemotherapy or following chemotherapy, often for the purpose of alleviating symptoms, though there is limited data on safety or clinical effects. A recent retrospective study from the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center – Jefferson Health examined changes in symptoms and whether there were adverse effects from intravenous ascorbic acid infusions in cancer patients receiving or not receiving chemotherapy.

For over a decade, researchers from the Marcus Institute of Integrative Health at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital have been actively researching Vitamin C therapies for cancer. In the present study they examined the patient-records of 86 patients treated with vitamin C infusions. They found side effects reported in five percent of all infusions, most which were nausea, vomiting, headache, and discomfort at the injection site that were limited in duration to the time of infusion. There were no serious adverse events associated with the infusions. The study team also saw improvements in patient-reported symptoms related to fatigue, bowel habits, and pain symptoms over the course of infusions.

The results were published in the journal of Integrative Cancer Therapeutics. Lead study author, Anthony J Bazzan, MD, stated, “Although we can not draw conclusions regarding effects on clinical symptoms from the current study, our results suggest that infusions are safe and that larger controlled clinical investigations are warranted to fully explore the potential clinical value.” Currently, the FDA has not approved high-dose vitamin C as a treatment for cancer or any other medical condition. “The primary goal of the current study was to contribute more data about safety in a large group of patients with various types of cancer, and in a setting that is more representative of clinical practice. The cumulative results of our studies on this topic have been quite encouraging,” said study co-author Daniel A. Monti, MD, Director of the Marcus Institute of Integrative Health.

Article reference: Anthony J. Bazzan, George Zabrecky, Nancy Wintering, Andrew B. Newberg, Daniel A. Monti, Anthony J. Bazzan, George Zabrecky, Nancy Wintering, Andrew B. Newberg, Daniel A. Monti, “Retrospective Evaluation of Clinical Experience With Intravenous Ascorbic Acid in Patients With Cancer,” Integrative Cancer Therapies, DOI: 10.1177/1534735418775809, 2018.

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Edyta Zielinska