Showering brain cancer cells with vitamin C softens them up for radiation therapy and hastens their death.
Patries Herst from the University of Otago, with Melanie McConnell investigated how combining high dose vitamin C with radiation affected the survival of cancer cells isolated from brain tumours, and compared this with the survival of normal cells.
They found that a high dose of vitamin C by itself caused DNA damage and cell death which was much more pronounced, especially before radiation, the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine reports.
Herst says brain cancer patients have a poor prognosis because these tumours are aggressive and very resistant to radiation therapy.
`We found that high dose vitamin C makes it easier to kill these cells by radiation therapy,` says Herst, according to an Otago statement.
She says there has long been a debate about the use of high dose vitamin C in the treatment of cancer. High dose vitamin C specifically kills a range of cancer cells in the lab and in animal models.
`If carefully designed clinical trials show that combining high dose vitamin C with radiation therapy improves patient survival, there may be merit in combining both treatments for radiation-resistant cancers, such as glioblastoma multiforme,` says Herst.