Vitamin C, antioxidants, and cancer treatment

Just in time for the berry harvest, two articles published on Friday (6/13/06) revisit vitamin C and antioxidants and their role in the treatment or prevention of cancer. The MSNBC “feel good” article is about vitamin C and antioxidants such as ellagic acid and pterostilbene, which are found in berries. “Do normal portions of berries give us enough phytochemicals to get protective benefits?” After 9 paragraphs the author discloses that we just don’t know, and ? you guessed it ? “more research is needed”.

On the same day, the Kansas City Star published an article that wondered if the two government-sponsored studies intended to test the claims of Linus Pauling, the Nobel laureate-turned-vitamin C advocate, might have succeeded if vitamin C had been administered directly into the vein rather than taken by mouth.

Not sure how this applies to berries bought at Stop & Shop, but at least we are reassured that more research on vitamin C is ongoing.

It has been three decades since Dr. Pauling and his collaborators first reported (first 4 citations listed here) beneficial effects of high-dose vitamin C (ascorbic acid) therapy for patients with terminal cancer. It might be another 30 years before we can say that research has clarified its role.

Until then, I’ll have strawberries on my corn flakes, please, because I like them and not because the antioxidants they contain make them an unsung cancer weapon.

6/26/06 18:14 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.