Vitamin C has been known for its health benefits, but now research is confirming its power as a cancer-fighter too.
The study, led by Margreet Vissers, associate professor at the University of Otago's Free Radical Research Group, has come up with the first real evidence of a connection between vitamin C and tumour growth.
Vissers says: "Our results offer a promising intervention to help in the fight against cancer at both the level of prevention and cure," reports the Cancer Research journal.According to a University of Otago statement, the role of vitamin C in cancer treatment has been debated for many years with many anecdotal accounts of its beneficial role in cancer prevention and treatment.
Previous research by Vissers had demonstrated the vitamin's importance in maintaining cell health and hinted at its potential for limiting diseases such as cancer.
Her latest study looked at whether vitamin C levels were lowered in patients with endometrial (uterine) tumours.
It investigated whether these cancer cells had low vitamin C levels and whether this correlated with tumour aggressiveness and resistance to chemotherapy.
Tumours with low vitamin C levels were found to have more of a protein called HIF-1 which allows them to thrive in stressful conditions.
The findings are significant as they show, for the first time, a direct relationship between HIF-1 and low vitamin C levels in tumours.