Orange juice
A team of researchers from the University of Granada in Spain has found that antioxidants in juices of citrus fruits were ten times higher than what was estimated earlier and recommended the necessity to revise health professionals' tables on the antioxidant capacities of food productsAriel Waldman/Flickr

Providing high levels of vitamin C via intravenous infusion may help fight cancer better and reduce some of the severe side-effects associated with chemotherapy, a new study says.

The anti-cancer abilities of vitamin C (Ascorbate, L-ascorbic acid) are well-known. However, previous studies have shown that, orally taken vitamin C is of no use in fighting cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute in US, injections help deliver vitamin C directly into the blood, further helping improve its levels in the body than when taken orally. Treating cancer with high-dose of vitamin C has been prevalent from 1970's. Since, it has been widely used to treat various infections, fatigue and different types of cancers.

In the study, a team of researchers from the University of Kansas in US conducted experiments on human ovarian cancer cells, mice and found that intravenous vitamin C was highly effective in killing the cancer cells, by backing chemotherapy and improving its effects, without causing any damage to normal tissues.

"In cell tissue and animal models of cancer, we saw when you add IV vitamin C it seems to augment the killing effect of chemotherapy drugs on cancer cells," study co-author Dr. Jeanne Drisko, director of integrative medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center, told Health Day.

Drisko and colleagues re-confirmed their findings on 27 patients with advanced ovarian cancer. During the study, participants received between 75 and 105 grams of vitamin C, along with their chemotherapy. Results showed that the method helped patients tolerate chemotherapy better, at the same time improving their energy levels and helping manage certain discomforts like nausea, Los Angeles Times reported.

"The combination of parenteral ascorbate with the conventional chemotherapeutic agents carboplatin and paclitaxel synergistically inhibited ovarian cancer in mouse models and reduced chemotherapy-associated toxicity in patients with ovarian cancer," the authors, wrote.

Power of vitamin C in fighting cancer has been a topic of discussion from a long time. Two clinical studies in the past that looked at ability of oral vitamin C supplements in fighting cancer failed, adding to the bias.  Drisko hoped that their findings will help eliminate the wrong notions and improve cancer treatments based on vitamin C. "There's been a bias since the late 1970s that vitamin C cancer treatment is worthless and a waste of time," Drisko, told Los Angeles Times, and added: "we're overcoming that old bias."

The study has been reported in Science Translational Medicine.