By: Dr. Jordan Robertson ND
Ovarian Cancer often presents with a poor prognosis simply based on the delay in diagnosis from a lack noticeable symptoms in women with the disease. This delay in diagnosis means many women are often diagnosed at a more progressed state. Because of this, looking at treatment options for women with ovarian cancer are crucial, to not only improve length of life, but to reduce toxicity and side effects of chemotherapy, which will likely be part of a long-term plan for these women.
Vitamin C has been studied in relation to ovarian cancer for years. Surprisingly, we don’t see a difference in incidence of ovarian cancer between women who eat high doses or low doses of vitamin C per day(1), but once a woman has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer – her vitamin C status starts to have a big impact on survival. And interestingly, when we compare the blood of women with and without ovarian cancer, women with the disease consistently have lower levels compared to health women(2).
In mouse models of the disease it has been found that vitamin C may have an important role to play in preventing the progression of cancer, by supporting the immune system (which is suppressed by low vitamin C)(3), and by blocking progression of cancer cells towards invasion and metastasis of surrounding tissues(4). Although these are mouse models, they have led researchers to look at vitamin C supplementation in advanced ovarian cancer patients to see if the results are similar.
In human research, we find that not only are women who supplement vitamin C (intravenously to achieve the dose needed) living longer, but they also have much fewer side effects from their standard chemotherapy treatments(5,6). Bastyr University is in the process of studying a small population of women with advanced ovarian cancer and in addition to a Naturopathic protocol, the women are receiving IV vitamin C (ascorbic acid) 1-2 x per week along with chemotherapy. A few years into their research they are finding a significant improvement in length of life in their patients when compared to national survival curves. In their study group, 83% of patients with stage III disease had survived 1 year after diagnosis, whereas the national database of ovarian cancer patients predicts only 49% of women survive 1 year after diagnosis. The research is ongoing in a multi-national (Canada and the US) study looking at Naturopathic care for advanced cancers. You can read more about their research and grants with the links below(7–9).
In a disease with poor prognosis, we can improve quality of life and possibly length of life with naturopathic protocols including intravenous vitamin C. Treatment for ovarian cancer with IVC is one of the most promising cancer types with this form of treatment. Along with breast cancer, lung cancer, colon and pancreatic cancer, many advanced cancers are being researched with additional vitamin C treatment with promising results compared to conventional treatment alone.
- Crane TE, Khulpateea BR, Alberts DS, Basen-Engquist K, Thomson CA. Dietary intake and ovarian cancer risk: a systematic review. Cancer Epidemiol Biomark Prev Publ Am Assoc Cancer Res Cosponsored Am Soc Prev Oncol. 2014 Feb;23(2):255–73.
- Senthil K, Aranganathan S, Nalini N. Evidence of oxidative stress in the circulation of ovarian cancer patients. Clin Chim Acta Int J Clin Chem. 2004 Jan;339(1-2):27–32.
- Kim J-E, Cho H-S, Yang H-S, Jung D-J, Hong S-W, Hung C-F, et al. Depletion of ascorbic acid impairs NK cell activity against ovarian cancer in a mouse model. Immunobiology. 2012 Sep;217(9):873–81.
- Roomi MW, Ivanov V, Kalinovsky T, Niedzwiecki A, Rath M. Inhibition of matrix metalloproteinase-2 secretion and invasion by human ovarian cancer cell line SK-OV-3 with lysine, proline, arginine, ascorbic acid and green tea extract. J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2006 Apr;32(2):148–54.
- Ma Y, Chapman J, Levine M, Polireddy K, Drisko J, Chen Q. High-dose parenteral ascorbate enhanced chemosensitivity of ovarian cancer and reduced toxicity of chemotherapy. Sci Transl Med. 2014 Feb 5;6(222):222ra18.
- Parenteral Ascorbate Is Beneficial in Ovarian Cancer Therapy. Cancer Discov. 2014 Apr 1;4(4):OF15–OF15.
- Bastyr Leads Innovation in Cancer Treatment and Prevention | Bastyr University [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Internet]. [cited 2016 Apr 10]. Available from: http://www.bastyr.edu/news/general-news-home-page/2015/10/bastyr-leads-innovation-cancer-treatment-and-prevention
- Grant Awarded to Study Integrative Oncology and Late Stage Cancer Survival | Bastyr University [Internet]. [cited 2016 Apr 10]. Available from: http://www.bastyr.edu/news/general-news-home-page/2015/03/3m-research-grant-awarded-canada-us-researchers-investigating
- The Canadian/US Integrative Oncology Study – Full Text View – ClinicalTrials.gov [Internet]. [cited 2016 Apr 10]. Available from: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02494037