Ascorbic acid in cancer treatment: let the phoenix fly, 2018

Topics: Vitamin C, ascorbate, cancer, pharmacokinetics

Authors: Niraj Shenoy, Edward Creagan, Thomas Witzig and Mark Levine


Vitamin C (ascorbic acid, ascorbate), despite controversy, has re-emerged as a promising anti-cancer agent. Recent knowledge of intravenous ascorbate pharmacokinetics and discovery of unexpected mechanisms of ascorbate action have spawned many investigations. Two mechanisms of anti-cancer activity with ascorbate have gained prominence: hydrogen peroxide-induced oxidative stress and DNA demethylation mediated by ten-eleven translocation enzyme activation. Here, we highlight salient aspects of the evolution of ascorbate in cancer treatment, provide insights into the pharmacokinetics of ascorbate, describe mechanisms of its anti-cancer activity in relation to the pharmacokinetics, outline promising preclinical and clinical evidence, and recommend future directions.

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