Background: Ascorbate (vitamin C) has been evaluated as a potential treatment for cancer as an independent agent and in combination with standard chemotherapies. This review assesses the evidence for safety and clinical effectiveness of intravenous (IV) ascorbate in treating various types of cancer.
Methods: Single arm and randomized Phase I/II trials were included in this review. The PubMed, MEDLINE, and Cochrane databases were searched. Results were screened by three of the authors (GN, RP, and CJP) to determine if they met inclusion criteria, and then summarized using a narrative approach.
Results: A total of 23 trials involving 385 patients met the inclusion criteria. Only one trial, in ovarian cancer, randomized patients to receive vitamin C or standard of care (chemotherapy). That trial reported an 8.75 month increase in progression-free survival (PFS) and an improved trend in overall survival (OS) in the vitamin C treated arm.
Conclusion: Overall, vitamin C has been shown to be safe in nearly all patient populations, alone and in combination with chemotherapies. The promising results support the need for randomized placebo-controlled trials such as the ongoing placebo-controlled trials of vitamin C and chemotherapy in prostate cancer.
Keywords: ascorbate; cancer; clinical trials; intravenous; patients; vitamin C.