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Biochem Pharmacol. 2008 Dec 15;76(12):1644-52. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2008.09.024. Epub 2008 Sep 30.

The controversial place of vitamin C in cancer treatment.

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Unité de Pharmacocinétique, Métabolisme, Nutrition, et Toxicologie (PMNT), Département des sciences pharmaceutiques, Université Catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium.


In 2008, we celebrate the 80th anniversary of the discovery of vitamin C. Since then, we know that vitamin C possesses few pharmacological actions although it is still perceived by the public as a "miracle-pill" capable to heal a variety of illnesses. Cancer is one of the most common diseases for which a beneficial role of vitamin C has been claimed. Thus, its dietary use has been proposed in cancer prevention for several years. Apart from this nutritional aspect, an extensive and often confusing literature exists about the use of vitamin C in cancer that has considerably discredited its use. Nevertheless, recent pharmacokinetic data suggest that pharmacologic concentrations of vitamin C can be achieved by intravenous injections. Since these concentrations exhibit anticancer activities in vitro, this raises the controversial question of the re-evaluation of vitamin C in cancer treatment. Therefore, the purpose of this commentary is to make a critical review of our current knowledge of vitamin C, focusing on the rationale that could support its use in cancer therapy.

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