Should You Use IV Vitamin C (Intravenous) As Part Of Your Cancer Treatment?

Should You Use I:V Vitamin C (Intravenous) As Part Of Your Cancer Treatment?Vitamin C therapy is proven to have positive effects in treating cancer. It can also be used to enhance the effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Learn more about Vitamin C therapy in the article below.

What is i.v. Vitamin C Therapy?

Vitamin C therapy is a high dose of Vitamin C given intravenously (i.v.). Vitamin C therapy is not new; however prior studies focused on it being given orally. I/V vitamin C is way more different than the oral form in its application. High doses of I/V vitamin C have unique application as a therapeutic tool in cancer management as they can reach a higher concentration in blood than the oral form.[1] Studies suggest that vitamin C in higher doses can cause the death of cancer cells

How does i/v Vitamin C Work?

For Vitamin C to work effectively against cancer cells, it must be given through i.v. route. Additionally, it must be given in high doses for it to generate hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide forms on the interaction of vitamin C with iron and other metals.

Hydrogen peroxide is lethal to cancer cells, in increased amounts as it causes the damage to the DNA and the mitochondria of cancer cells. Thus destroying them by limiting their energy supply. The high doses have a pro-oxidant effect rather than an anti-oxidant one.It oxidizes the tissues by converting the free radicles into hydrogen peroxide that can destroy the cancer cells if not neutralized by an enzyme in the cells called catalase.

Current research suggests that vitamin C concentration above 1000micromol/l  reached after an I/V dose is toxic to some cancer cells. Experiments showed that lipoic acid further boost the anticancer activity of  high-dose I/V vitamin C. Researchers suggests that vitamin C also prevent the action of proteins that results in slow growth of the tumor along with decreased formation of new blood vessels(angiogenesis).

Physicians have the ability to provide i.v. Vitamin C treatments within a clinical setting.

Advantages of i.v. Vitamin C with Different Types of Cancer

Research shows that Vitamin C used intravenously may benefit patients with poor prognosis, those with minimal treatment options, or those whose cancer has reached an advanced status.

Vitamin C intravenously may reduce tumor size in some patients.

Patients with ovarian cancer may respond positively to Vitamin C when used in conjunction with other antioxidants.

Vitamin C intravenously may also be beneficial for patients with lung cancer, lymphomas or metastatic cancers.

Researchers at Kansas University have reported that Vitamin C injected directly into the ovarian cancer cells in humans and mouse helps in the death of these cells leaving intact the normal cells.

Laboratory studies have shown that I/V vitamin therapy is beneficial in the treatment of several different cancer types that include lung, brain, breast, colon, pancreatic and ovarian cancer.

What is the Effect of i.v. Vitamin C on Metastasis?

Some research suggests that Vitamin C in higher doses given intravenously may lead to tumor regression.

Does i/v Vitamin C Enhance the Effect of Chemotherapy?

It is suggested that I/V vitamin C therapy should be given in combination with other therapies such as chemotherapy due to its synergistic effects. Research has shown that antioxidants, including Vitamin C, may improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy. Evidence proves that higher concentrations of vitamin C in the blood and tissues can reduce the toxicity or increase the efficacy of chemotherapy.[2]

Does i/v Vitamin C Enhance the Effects of Radiation?

Intravenous Vitamin C may cause improvement in the effectiveness of radiation therapy.

Can i.v. Vitamin C-Reduce the Side Effects of Chemotherapy and Radiation?
Using Vitamin C intravenously has shown to result in a decrease of nausea, fatigue, depression, sleep disorders, loss of appetite and hemorrhagic diathesis.
What Influence does i/v vitamin c have on the Immune System?

Vitamin C has many benefits than cancer killing. It also works by stimulating the immune system and decreasing the risk of infections and other diseases. The immune system responds positively to Vitamin C, as it is a needed requirement to rebuild cells and restore depleted nutrients. High doses of Vitamin C also allow the body to absorb iron.

Does i/v? Vitamin C Increase Quality of life and Survival Rate?

The use of high dose I/V vitamin in increasing the life span of cancer patients was first proposed by Linus Pauling and Ewan Cameron in 1976. [3]

Using Vitamin C intravenously can increase the quality of life by decreasing cancer treatment-related side-effects.Vitamin C may also increase the quality of life in late-stage cancer patients.

Terminally ill patients with cancer may experience prolonged life after treatment with intravenous Vitamin C.


Vitamin C is imperative for the healthy functioning of the human body. There is a plethora of research that shows how using Vitamin C intravenously may or may not have positive impacts on patients with cancer.

Oral doses of Vitamin C have not been shown to have clinical significance in the treatment of cancer. Vitamin C  is given intravenously in higher doses to reduce tumor growth and enhance the effects of radiation and chemotherapy.

It is noticed that some research has shown positive results from Vitamin C used intravenously in conjunction with other antioxidants in cancer care. Studies have also failed to show any negative side effects from using Vitamin C intravenously except mild tiredness and occasional gastric trouble with high doses.

There is continuous research going on to explore further about the role high dose I/V vitamin C therapy in cancer care. It is expected tat shortly I/V vitamin C therapy might emerge as a miraculous drug in the treatment of cancer. It is suggested to follow the recent recommendations and take I/V vitamin C therapy under the supervision of your doctor.



  1. [1]  Riordan NH, Riordan HD, Meng X, Li Y, Jackson JA. Intravenous ascorbate as a tumor cytotoxic chemotherapeutic agent. Med Hypotheses. 1995;44(3):207-213.
  2. [2] Park JH, Davis KR, Lee G, Jung M, Jung Y, Park J, Yi SY, Lee MA, Lee S, Yeom CH, Kim J. Ascorbic acid alleviates toxicity of paclitaxel without interfering with the anticancer efficacy in mice.Nutr Res. 2012 Nov; 32(11):873-83.
  3. [3] Cameron E, Pauling L (October 1976).“Supplemental ascorbate in the supportive treatment of cancer: Prolongation of survival times in terminal human cancer”. PNAS 73 (10): 3685-3689. Bibcode:1976PNAS…73.3685C. doi:10.1073/pnas.73.10.3685.  PMC 431183.PMID 1068480.

Featured Photo: Foundation for Alternative and Integrative Medicine

Dr. Adem Gunes Dr. Adem Gunes has built the world’s largest database of scientifically tested natural substances with proven effects in cancer treatments. In 2009, he was appointed as the Chief Physician of ProLife Clinic in Innsbruck, Austria, and played a key role in the establishment of the research laboratory. He is also the co-founder of the first Austrian hyperthermia center. Now, Dr. Adem works closely with cancer patients from around the world (including Germany, Thailand, Dubai) to recommend them a complementary cancer clinic or to create a personalized care plan for patients to follow at home.

Intravenous Vitamin C for Cancer Patients

Intravenous Vitamin C TherapyIn 1975, a remarkable case was reported of a 42-year old man suffering from a malignant form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, who experienced a dramatic regression of the cancer after being given large doses of vitamin C intravenously. He seemed cured; so, they stopped the vitamin C, and the cancer came surging back. So, they restarted the vitamin C, apparently inducing a second complete remission. Now, sometimes, cancer does just spontaneously regress—it’s rare, but not unheard of. So, one could argue that the first remission was spontaneous, and it was just a coincidence that it happened when they started the vitamin C, but given the trajectory the cancer was on, followed by the rapid remission, followed by the relapse when the vitamin C was stopped, followed by a second remission once restarted does strongly suggest the vitamin C had something to do with it.

Now, multiple spontaneous regressions do exist. There was a recent case, for example, of a woman with cervical cancer, apparently cured with radiation and chemo, but when the cancer came back, she refused further treatment; yet, the tumors disappeared on their own, and then came back, and then disappeared, then came back, and then disappeared, then came back, and then disappeared for a fourth spontaneous remission, and that was with no apparent treatment at all. So, it’s possible this vitamin C case is just a crazy coincidence fluke, and the vitamin C didn’t help at all. You never know until you put it to the test.

So, these researchers enlisted the help of Linus Pauling, considered the greatest chemist of the 20th century, who was known to be interested in vitamin C. If he couldn’t get funding, nobody could get funding, and he couldn’t get funding. They went to the National Cancer Institute with promising data on the first 40 cancer patients they treated with vitamin C and asked that they carry out a randomized double blind trial, meaning take a group of incurable cancer patients for which we have nothing more to offer, randomly split them up into two groups and infuse one group with vitamin C and the other group with something just saline, basically water, and see who lives longest. Neither the patients nor the doctors would know who got which, to eliminate bias and placebo effects. And they went back year after year after year asking for grants to study it themselves if the National Cancer Institute wasn’t going to do it , and they got rejected year, after year, after year. So, they scraped up whatever funds they could find and did their best with what they had and published their famous findings in 1976.

They didn’t have a controlled trial, but by that point, they had treated a hundred terminal cancer patients with vitamin C. So, they compared their progress to that of a thousand similar patients who didn’t get vitamin C. For each patient treated with vitamin C, they found ten patients about the same age with the same kind of cancer that had been treated at the same hospital but without the vitamin C infusions. This is what they found. Let’s look at breast cancer, for example. Here’s the survival curve for terminal breast cancer—remember these were all terminal cancer patients. As you can see, in the control group, within 100 days, more than 80% of the women were dead, but in the vitamin C group, half were still alive nearly a year later. They had women with terminal breast cancer still alive 2,270 days later and still counting.

The control groups for all the different cancers did predictably bad, with the vast majority dead within one to two hundred days, while the vitamin C treated patients appeared to do substantially better. All in all, the average survival time was four times as great for the vitamin C subjects: more than 200 days compared to only 50 days for the controls. The results, they conclude, clearly indicate that this simple and safe form of medication is of definite value in the treatment of patients with advanced cancer. So what happened?

Critics understandably attacked the study for using after-the-fact controls. You could see how this could introduce bias. If you consciously or unconsciously chose control group patients who were sicker than your treatment group patients, they would die sooner than your patients, but it would have nothing to do with the treatment; the control group folks just started out in a worse place. And, indeed, there’s evidence that is what happened—a full 20% of the control group died within a few days after being declared terminal compared to none in the treatment group, which really does sound fishy. But the trial was successful in finally convincing the National Cancer Institute to fund randomized controlled trials performed by the prestigious Mayo Clinic, no less. What did they find? We’ll find out, next.


In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.
Michael Greger M.D.About Michael Greger M.D.Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous “meat defamation” trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States.

Questions and Answers About High-Dose Vitamin C

High-Dose Vitamin C

  1. What is high-dose vitamin C?

    Vitamin C (also called L-ascorbic acid or ascorbate) is a nutrient that humans must get from food or dietary supplements since it cannot be made in the body. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and helps prevent oxidative stress. It also works with enzymes to play a key role in making collagen.

    When taken by intravenous (IV) infusion, vitamin C can reach much higher levels in the blood than when it is taken by mouth. Studies suggest that these higher levels of vitamin C may cause the death of cancer cells in the laboratory.

    A severe deficiency (lack) of vitamin C in the diet causes scurvy, a disease with symptoms of extreme weakness, lethargy, easy bruising, and bleeding. The lack of vitamin C in patients with scurvy makes collagen thinner in texture; when vitamin C is given, collagen becomes thicker again.

  2. What is the history and use of high-dose vitamin C as a complementary and alternative treatment for cancer?

    High-dose vitamin C has been studied as a treatment for patients with cancer since the 1970s. A Scottish surgeon named Ewan Cameron worked with Nobel Prize-winning chemist Linus Pauling to study the possible benefits of vitamin C therapy in clinical trials of cancer patients in the late 1970s and early 1980’s.

    Surveys of healthcare practitioners at United States CAM conferences in recent years have shown that high-dose IV vitamin C is frequently given to patients as a treatment for infections, fatigue, and cancers, including breast cancer.

  3. What is the theory behind the claim that high-dose vitamin C is useful in treating cancer?

    More than fifty years ago, a study suggested that cancer was a disease of changes in connective tissue caused by a lack of vitamin C. In the 1970’s, it was proposed that high-dose ascorbic acid could help build resistance to disease or infection and possibly treat cancer.

    Later studies showed that the levels of vitamin C that collect in the bloodstream depend on how it is taken.

  4. How is high-dose vitamin C administered?

    Vitamin C may be given by intravenous (IV) infusion or taken by mouth, although much higher blood levels are reached when given intravenously.

  5. Have any preclinical (laboratory or animal) studies been conducted using high-dose vitamin C?

    Laboratory studies and animal studies have been done to find out if high-dose vitamin C may be useful in preventing or treating cancer.

    Laboratory studies

    Many laboratory studies have been done to find out how high-dose vitamin C may cause the death of cancer cells. The anticancer effect of vitamin C in different types of cancer cells involves a chemical reaction that makes hydrogen peroxide, which may kill cancer cells.

    Laboratory studies have shown the following:

    However, not all laboratory studies combining vitamin C with anticancer therapies have shown benefit. Combining dehydroascorbic acid, a particular form of vitamin C, with chemotherapy made it less effective in killing some kinds of cancer cells.

    Animal studies

    Studies of high-dose vitamin C have been done in animal models (animals given a disease either the same as or like a disease in humans).

    Some of the studies showed the vitamin C helped kill more cancer cells:

    • High-dose vitamin C blocked tumor growth in animal models of pancreatic, liver, prostate, sarcoma, and ovarian cancers and malignant mesothelioma.
    • High-dose vitamin C combined with chemotherapy in a mouse model of pancreatic cancer showed that the combination treatment shrank tumors more than chemotherapy treatment alone.
    • Another study showed that vitamin C made a type of light therapy more effective when used to treat mice injected with breast cancer cells.
    • A study in a mouse model of ovarian cancer showed that combining intravenous high-dose vitamin C with the anticancer drugs carboplatin and paclitaxel made them more effective in treating ovarian cancer.

    However, other animal studies have shown that vitamin C interferes with the anticancer action of certain drugs, including the following:

    • Mouse models of human lymphoma and multiple myeloma treated with combinations of vitamin C and chemotherapy or the drug bortezomib had more tumor growth than mice treated with bortezomib alone.
  6. Have any clinical trials (research studies with people) of high-dose intravenous (IV) vitamin C been conducted?

    Several studies of high-dose vitamin C in patients with cancer have been done in recent years, including the following:

    Studies of vitamin C alone

    • Intravenous (IV) vitamin C was studied in patients with breast cancer who were treated with adjuvant chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The study found that patients who received IV vitamin C had better quality of life and fewer side effects than those who did not.
    • A study of IV vitamin C and high doses of vitamin C taken by mouth was done in patients with cancer that could not be cured. Vitamin C was shown to be a safe and effective therapy to improve quality of life in these patients, including physical, mental, and emotional functions, symptoms of fatigue, nausea and vomiting, pain, and appetite loss.
    • Vitamin C has been shown to be safe when given to healthy volunteers and cancer patients at doses up to 1.5 g/kg, while screening out patients with certain risk factors who should avoid vitamin C. Studies have also shown that Vitamin C levels in the blood are higher when taken by IV than when taken by mouth, and last for more than 4 hours.

    Studies of vitamin C combined with other drugs

    Studies of vitamin C combined with other drugs have shown mixed results:

    • In a small study of 14 patients with advanced pancreatic cancer, IV vitamin C was given along with chemotherapy and treatment with a targeted therapy. Patients had very few bad side effects from the vitamin C treatment. The nine patients who completed the treatment had stable disease as shown by imaging studies.
    • In another small study of 9 patients with advanced pancreatic cancer, patients were given chemotherapy in treatment cycles of once per week for 3 weeks along with IV vitamin C twice per week for 4 weeks. These patients had disease that did not progress for a period of months. The combined treatment was well tolerated and no serious side effects were reported.
    • In a 2014 study of 27 patients with advanced ovarian cancer, treatment with chemotherapy alone was compared to chemotherapy along with IV vitamin C. Patients who received IV vitamin C along with chemotherapy had fewer serious side effects from the chemotherapy.
    • Patients with acute myeloid leukemia, refractory metastatic colorectal cancer, or metastatic melanoma treated with IV vitamin C combined with other drugs had serious side effects and the disease got worse.

    More studies of combining high-dose IV vitamin C with other drugs are in progress.

  7. Have any side effects or risks been reported from high-dose vitamin C?

    Intravenous high-dose ascorbic acid has caused very few side effects in clinical trials. However, high-dose vitamin C may be harmful in patients with certain risk factors.

    • In patients with a history of kidney disorders, kidney failure has been reported after ascorbic acid treatment. Patients with a tendency to develop kidney stones should not be treated with high-dose vitamin C.
    • Case reports have shown that patients with an inherited disorder called G-6-PD deficiency should not be given high doses of vitamin C, due to the risk of hemolysis (a condition in which red blood cells are destroyed).
    • Since vitamin C may make iron more easily absorbed and used by the body, high doses of the vitamin are not recommended for patients with hemochromatosis (a condition in which the body takes up and stores more iron than it needs).
  8. Have any drug interactions been reported from combining high-dose vitamin C with anticancer drugs?

    A drug interaction is a change in the way a drug acts in the body when taken with certain other drugs. High-dose vitamin C, when combined with some anticancer drugs, may cause them to be less effective. So far, these effects have been seen only in some laboratory and animal studies. No clinical trials have been done to further research these drug interactions in humans.

    • Combining vitamin C with an anticancer drug called bortezomib has been studied in cell cultures and in animal models. Bortezomib is a targeted therapy that blocks several molecular pathways in a cell, causing cancer cells to die. Several studies showed that vitamin C given by mouth made bortezomib less effective, including in multiple myeloma cells. A study in mice transplanted with human prostate cancer cells, however, did not show that giving the mice different doses of vitamin C by mouth made bortezomib therapy less effective.
    • An oxidized form of vitamin C called dehydroascorbic acid has been studied in cell cultures and in animals with tumors. Several studies have found that high doses of dehydroascorbic acid can interfere with the anticancer effects of several chemotherapy drugs. Dehydroascorbic acid is found in only small amounts in dietary supplements and in fresh foods.

    See Question 5 and Question 6 for more information on combining vitamin C with anticancer drugs.

  9. Is high-dose vitamin C approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use as a cancer treatment in the United States?

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of high-dose vitamin C as a treatment for cancer or any other medical condition.

    Because dietary supplements are regulated as foods, not as drugs, FDA approval is not required unless specific claims about disease prevention or treatment are made.

Source: National Cancer Institute: PDQ® High-Dose Vitamin C. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Date last modified (04/08/2015). Available at: Accessed <5/9/2015>.

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