Monday, September 17, 2007

How Vitamin C Prevents Cancer

It was thought that cancer cells overcome hypoxia within tumors in order to survive, but a growing body of evidence suggests that hypoxia and defective apoptosis actually drive or promote the growth of cancers. Linus Pauling was the first to promote Vitamin C's anticancer benefits, but the medical establishment didn't trust his hypothesis or evidence at the time. The following article details a molecular mechanism for how vitamin C arrests cancer cells' growth. Basically, vitamin C prevents the hypoxia-induction factor 1 (HIF-1) protein from being induced (turned on) and turning on gene expression of proteins which allow cancer cells to survive in low oxygen conditions by switching their metabolism via the mitochondria from aerobic respiration to glycolysis. Administration of the cheap drug, dichloroacetate, switches aerobic metabolism back on in mitochondria and induces apoptosis as well, so the combined administration of vitamin C and dichloroacetate might be the most effective cancer treatment for some cancers and the administration of vitamin D might prevent the return of the cancer.


The sciencedaily link for "article" needs to be fixed. See, people are reading! :-)
Fixed. Thanks.

I can't say I understand the theory but vitamin therapy is worth a try.


It's actually quite simple. The HIF-1 protein has a sensor module. When this sensor module is modified by oxygen radicals, it alters the protein's three dimensional structure. This conformational change makes the protein bind DNA at specific sites and bind RNA polymerase I in such a way as to turn on the expression of genes whose proteins help the cell cope with low oxygen conditions, such as high altitudes, or perhaps even drowning. The cells and tissues will hang on and do what they can to survive oxygen starvation which is just another form of stress. Cancer cells proliferate and their uncontrolled growth causes them to use up the available nutrients and the oxygen at their location, but they don't hunker down and wait for things to get better. Cancer cells move on and set up shop elsewhere. The problem when cancer cells metastasize or spread is that the new tumors eventually crowd out the organs and healthy tissues. The first step to cancer is likely what biologists call a chromosomal translocation within a cell, though certain viruses can also cause cancers. Then, the hypoxia mechanism kicks in which allows the cell to survive extreme conditions and may prevent the autosuicide mechanism from triggering. Severely damaged cells are usually told to self-destruct for the good of the whole and it is an internal mechanism. Viruses will again subvert this mechanism for their own ends. So, if one takes enough vitamin C or another antioxidant, the hypoxia induction system is never turned on. This prevents a cascade of other things happening which would allow the cancer to grow and spread, and in some cases, it might be enough to kill the cancer if the autodestruct mechanism is intact and functioning to an extent.
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