Vitamin C Induces Death Cells Causing Types of Leukemia
Vitamin C injections can be a way to help fight blood cancer, which includes different types of leukemia. Experiments carried out on mice suggest that the nutrient induces the development of stem cells in mature blood cells, which eventually die.
Some types of blood cancer, including acute and chronic leukemia, usually involve mutations that affect a gene called tet methylcytosine dioxygenase, or TET2. This gene usually helps to develop a type of stem cell properly so that they produce white blood cells and then die. But when the TET2 mutation occurs, these cells can begin to divide and multiply uncontrollably, leading to cancer. Mutations that cause deficiency in the functioning of TET2 are found in 10% of patients with acute myelogenous leukemia, 30% of cases of myelodysplastic syndrome and 50% of chronic myeloid leukemias.
- We are thrilled by the prospect that high-dose vitamin C may become a safe treatment for blood disorders caused by TET2 deficiency, most likely in combination with other therapies - said the study's author, published on Thursday in the journal "Cell," Benjamin Neel of New York University.
In the study, Luisa Cimmino and Benjamin Neel and their colleagues created genetically modified mice in which the TET2 gene could be activated and deactivated. They found that a 50% reduction in TET2 activity may be enough to induce cancer.
Then the team turned to vitamin C, knowing that the nutrient is known to have an effect on embryonic stem cells that can activate TET2 and help keep cell replication under control.
The team injected mice with low TET2 activity into very high doses of vitamin C every day for 24 weeks and found that the progression of leukemia was delayed. The deficiency in gene activity was reversed, causing the stem cells to mature into blood cells and follow the normal course until eventual cell death.
At the end of the 24-week period, a control group that did not receive injections had a 3-fold higher amount of white blood cells - a sign of pre-leukemia.
When the team exposed human leukemia cells to a cancer drug, they were found to have achieved better results when associated with vitamin C.
- New Tested Technique in Mice Cures 96% of Cancer Cases
- High Cholesterol Diets Can Accelerate Tumor Growth 100 Times
- Consumption of Sugar Can Feed Cancer Tumors, Says Study
- Scientists Discover New Tracks of How Race Can Prevent Cancer
- Interestingly, we found that treatment with vitamin C had an effect on leukemic stem cells - commented Luisa Cimmino, co-author of the study. - For this reason, we decided to combine vitamin C with another drug, known to cause the death of cancer cells by the DNA repair block, already approved to treat certain patients with ovarian cancer.
Oranges are not enough
Neel hopes that high doses of vitamin C will eventually be incorporated into cancer therapies. People who have acute myeloid leukemia are usually of advanced age and can suffer fatal consequences with chemotherapy, not resisting treatment. Vitamin C in combination with cancer drugs can provide an alternative and less invasive approach.
But taking large amounts of vitamin C probably will not stop you from having cancer, says Neel. The mice received 100 milligrams of vitamin C in each injection, the equivalent of about two oranges. It turns out that a normal person weighs about 3000 times more than a mouse. And as the body stops absorbing vitamin C after 500 milligrams, any possible therapy requires intravenous injection.
"You can not reach the levels necessary for the effects of this study just by eating oranges," explained Neel.