Vitamin C and cancer, or why forums should not be trusted.

Once upon a time, when I was looking for descriptions of the effectiveness of various substances, I read the reviews available on the Internet. At some point, however, I realized that virtually every supplement I read about in the reviews had miraculous, even magical properties. It wasn’t long before I came across an article that indicated that the reviews were written not by the people who purchased the supplements in question, but by hired employees.

This is an extremely popular form of advertising. I remember a long time ago, when the “optimal diet” (some version of Atkins diet, popular in Poland) promoters were running rampant on the internet with their psychodiet, we were able to track down one woman who wrote on probably every forum how her various diseases were reversing on this miracle-diet. She didn’t know that she could be traced, she registered on every possible forum concerning diseases and described how this particular disease reversed in her. As it was counted, she had over 50 of them, each of course cured by a miracle diet. Needless to say, she didn’t actually have any of them. Similarly with Lyme disease – discussion forums were flooded with posts from people who registered only to describe how various diseases disappeared in them or their children after they paid tens of thousands for “treatment”.

There are hundreds of described cases on the internet of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis being cured after high doses of antibiotics. Usually accompanied by the address of the clinic where such a miraculous cure took place – the therapy costs tens of thousands of euros and is almost always successful. The problem is that none of these cases have happened. They didn’t, because they couldn’t – it was tested on several thousand (!) patients how antibiotics affect the course of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. None of them recovered.

Nowadays we have a similar situation with vitamin C – internet forums have moved to facebook groups, and every now and then you can come across posts about how someone got cured / someone’s family got cured, most often on groups where at the same time there are advertisements of the “only working” vitamin C. Even recently someone wrote me in a discussion that he personally knows three people who have been cured. When pressed, it turned out that these were three Facebook posts, whose authors he had never seen, but believed to exist.

If someone convinces you that he was cured of cancer by vitamin C, or that he knows someone who was cured – ask him to contact a scientist who will describe this case and publish this description in professional medical press. Do not be fooled by fables that some conspiracy does not allow the publication of such descriptions, below I explain why this is nonsense.

Many times I have come across cases when people really believed that they had cured their tumors with various strange things – apricot kernels, vitamin C or even prayer. But upon closer examination, it turned out that either the patient was doing a dozen other therapies at the same time, including, for example, chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which has a success rate of over 80% (but it was definitely the alternative that cured me, I know that!), or he was treating himself for a preliminary diagnosis that may or may not have turned out to be cancer, which the patient himself didn’t know because, after all, he doesn’t know anything about diagnosis.

There are two reliable ways by which you can know a charlatan. First, he tells you that his way is good for everything. Second – he claims that the conspiracy makes it impossible to conduct or publish research.

Here, however, one must approach the problem very carefully. Admittedly, the above claims can be true, but… well, there is a small “but” here.

First things first, a cure for many different diseases. According to the above logic, if someone said that penicillin cures syphilis, pneumonia, gangrene, sepsis, Lyme disease, pharyngitis – he would have to be a charlatan, how so, one drug for so many diseases? Impossible. On top of that, each of these diseases has different symptoms, a charlatan in person.

As you can see, in order to be able to answer the question whether one substance will help for many diseases, you need to have some idea about their causes. People like simple solutions – this applies to both sides of the barricade. Some would like to know that they are smarter than all doctors and scientists, that they know the miracle cure for every type of cancer, vitamin C. The others, on the other hand, would like to know the miracle way to separate science from charlatanry, would like to know that they are smarter than all those who have doubts. Both groups are simply looking to boost their egos.

The second issue, the notorious conspiracy. It is partly true and partly a lie. No, no one is blocking publication. If a substance works, it can be described, no BigPharma militia is going to cut off a publicist’s head. I have repeatedly given the example of studies where effective therapies against seemingly incurable diseases have been described. I guarantee that if vitamin C helped someone with cancer, doctors and scientists would rush to publish the case in the professional press. For the unbelievers, described cases of curing / stopping cancer with salts of dichloroacetic acid, a substance that is ridiculously cheap and can be said to be a very serious “threat” to the pharmaceutical industry. If they wanted to hide something, it would be the action of these salts. And yet publications are appearing one after another:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23263938

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5067498/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5554882/

https://www.journalmc.org/index.php/JMC/article/view/2456/1816

We’re talking about a relatively unpopular substance that almost nobody uses – there are no people on the Internet who make money selling it, so hardly anyone knows about it, in addition it was “discovered” only a few years ago. And without any problem, conspiracy or anything like that, there are case reports in the professional press where it worked and pulled people out of cancer.

So why did I write about “but”? You can look at the examples above. We have something that is potentially a very effective drug, there are preliminary animal studies showing sensational results, there are case reports of patients basically pulled out from under a shovel by a mortician. And then what? Nothing. It’s not being studied. Not because of a conspiracy. There just isn’t a sponsor. It’s not profitable for anyone to invest in an anti-cancer drug they won’t make money on.

The bottom line is that if a therapy actually works, there will be at least isolated cases in the professional medical press, which means the “Big Pharma will block publications!” argument falls away. But at the same time, it is very likely that promising therapies will not be tested in serious clinical trials at all, so the “if it worked, they would have tested it!” argument also falls away.

Contrary to appearances, we know quite a bit about vitamin C in terms of cancer. We know, for example, that supplementation does not affect the risk of developing the disease at all, the clinical trials involved over 60,000 participants, with such a large group it is physically impossible not to detect an effect on the risk of the disease, if such an effect existed:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4666862/

That leaves the use of vitamin C like chemotherapy, that is, intravenously. Here, too, on both sides of the barricade, we have screamers who, although they have little to say, say it very loudly. From some we will hear that intravenous vitamin C cures every cancer, from others – that it never works. And the truth is that almost any substance given in such doses can affect the course of cancer. What both groups forget – every cancer is different. For example, without linking because I am writing from memory now, in two different melanoma cell lines in one case omega 3 strongly inhibited their proliferation, in the other case it had no effect. Seemingly the same cancer, melanoma, but subtly different – and that is enough for omega 3 to turn from a very nicely acting drug into a worthless oil.

By its very nature, there must be a type of cancer for which intravenous vitamin C will prove to be an effective drug (we talk about an effective drug in cancer when it simply slows down its progression). But on the same principle, there must also be a type at which the same vitamin C will accelerate its development. While we are on melanoma – it uses antioxidants to make metastases.

We have the results of clinical trials:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20799507

Of the 24 patients who got intravenous vitamin C, none showed reversal of the disease. Improvement in mood, reduction in pain, yes, but none of them had a cure or even a slowing of cancer progression.

On the other hand, we have a patient example:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5882293/

He used vitamin C infusions as therapy against advanced pancreatic cancer. Medical science gave him no chance. However, the disease was stopped and subsequently regressed. This can be said to be an example of a cure for pancreatic cancer. Unfortunately, it is not known what other methods the patient used – he certainly did not use chemotherapy or any other “official” method, so his recovery is entirely due to alternative medicine, or it was simply a rare case of spontaneous self-healing. It is known that the patient used extremely high doses of vitamin D3, which indirectly led to his death, but there is no data on other supplements.

For this reason, only placebo-controlled clinical trials are of any value – it is impossible to say whether the patient recovered thanks to the vitamin C infusions or despite them.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1104207

In this case, on the other hand, the lymphoma regressed after vitamin C therapy, attacked again after it was stopped, and regressed once again after it was resumed.

There are a few more cases described, but they all look similar – the patient was taking vitamin C in addition to pounds of other stuff.

Let’s look at the results of a clinical trial where they tested how intravenous vitamin C works for pancreatic cancer – yes, they did one!

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3587047/

Unfortunately, things were not so rosy. Of the 9 patients, 8 died. One was alive at the end of the clinical trial, but the disease was making progress and death was a matter of time. The results suggest that the patients may – but only may – have lived a little longer than the statistics suggest, but not a single one of them could be saved with vitamin C infusions, and none of them showed a strong slowing of the disease progression. Preventing questions – the doses were similar to those used in the case described above.

In the example above, you can see very nicely the difference between “a single case described” and “detailed studies were performed”. We have this guy whose pancreatic cancer has regressed, we know he was taking intravenous vitamin C – someone might say “haha, I knew it, proof of action!”. And then it turns out that the patient was taking thirty other supplements in addition to this vitamin and had drastically changed his diet. What’s more, in this single case, we have a description of one person who succeeded, rather than seeing thousands of those who failed.

In contrast, when the doctors selected the patients and did the infusions themselves, we can know for sure that the patients did not do any additional therapies on their own (or at least not fanatically, like the one described earlier who almost killed himself with vitamin D3), and we have full insight – we see how many patients started treatment.

The usual idiocy is to say that such studies are falsified. Let’s start with what basis is there to even claim that vitamin C can be a cure? All we have is the word of the guy who wants to sell us this vitamin. And nothing more. I could start selling, I don’t know… exorcisms that cure cancer, claiming that they work, and if the research shows that they don’t, I would say that the research was falsified. In that case we are dealing not with science or medicine, but with religion – we are supposed to believe because the guru said.

No, that’s not the way to do it. It’s up to the person claiming that their product cures to provide proof of its effect, something more than “buy it from me”. I know it’s tempting – to be able to say “ha, I know how to cure cancer, I know a secret that no doctor knows!”, this is what the popularity of charlatans is based on – they say what people want to hear, the victim has the feeling of being someone special. But from the side, such a person looks like a member of a cult, shouting that only he will go to heaven, and all the rest of people to hell. A sad sight.

To sum up:

All clinical trials conducted under controlled conditions have yielded negative results. Not a single patient could be saved. The information gathered indicates a slight efficacy, slowing the disease, but only for certain cancers. There are probably some cancers for which intravenous vitamin C will be a very effective therapy, just as there are probably some in which it will accelerate the progression of the disease, but all indications are that these will be rare exceptions.

Administering intravenous vitamin C improves the condition of patients – it reduces pain, alleviates the side effects of the usual treatment, but it does not undo the cancer.

The only situations in which the disease was actually reversed are descriptions of individual cases, where first of all we are not sure if the patient did not use hundreds of other supplements at the same time (and in the most spectacular case we are even sure that he did), secondly – we do not know if tens of thousands of others have not tried the same thing before without any effect, which would mean that this is probably the one case out of several thousand of spontaneous reversal of the disease.

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