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From the Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients
December 2005

Intravenous Vitamin C is Selectively Toxic to Cancer Cells

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National Institutes of Health scientists have confirmed the concepts that vitamin C is selectively toxic to cancer cells and that tumor-toxic levels of vitamin C can be attained using intravenous administration. The article, published in the September 12, 2005 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1 concluded, "These findings give plausibility to intravenous ascorbic acid in cancer treatment."

IVOrthomolecular medical researchers, including Nobel laureate Linus Pauling, have long recognized the great importance of vitamin C in fighting cancer.2 Scientists associated with the Bio-Communications Research Institute (BRCI) in Wichita, Kansas have published 20 scientific articles on the subject.3 BCRI researchers first reported in 1995 that vitamin C in sufficient amounts is selectively toxic to tumor cells. The authors concluded that tumor-toxic levels of vitamin C could be achieved only by giving the vitamin intravenously. Subsequent research from BCRI, published in the British Journal of Cancer in 2001,4 was the first to describe in detail the pharmacokinetics of high doses of intravenous vitamin C.

"It is gratifying to have our research on vitamin C and cancer confirmed by scientists at the prestigious National Institutes of Health," said Neil Riordan, Ph.D., BCRI's Research Director. "The findings reinforce our goal and commitment to pursue cutting edge cancer research," added Michael Gonzalez, Ph.D., D.Sc. of the University of Puerto Rico.

BCRI's vitamin C research was headed by its founder, Hugh D. Riordan, M.D. The research team includes Dr. Xiaolong Meng, Dr. Joseph Casciari, Dr. Nina Mikirova, Dr. Jie Zhong, Dr. James A. Jackson, Dr. Don Davis, Dr. Jorge Miranda, Dr. Michael Gonzalez, Dr. Neil Riordan, and Mr. Paul Taylor.

What is Orthomolecular Medicine?
Linus Pauling defined orthomolecular medicine as "the treatment of disease by the provision of the optimum molecular environment, especially the optimum concentrations of substances normally present in the human body." Orthomolecular medicine uses safe, effective nutritional therapy to fight illness. For more information:

Take the Orthomolecular Quiz at
The peer-reviewed Orthomolecular Medicine News Service is a non-profit and non-commercial informational resource.

Editorial Review Board:
Abram Hoffer, M.D.
Harold D. Foster, Ph.D.
Bradford Weeks, M.D.
Carolyn Dean, M.D. N.D.
Eric Patterson, M.D.
Thomas Levy, M.D., J.D.

OMNS Editor: Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D. Email: .
BCRI contact person: Renee Olmstead:
To subscribe at no charge:

1. Chen Q, Espey MG, Krishna MC, Mitchell JB, Corpe CP, Buettner GR, Shacter E, Levine M. Pharmacologic ascorbic acid concentrations selectively kill cancer cells: Action as a pro-drug to deliver hydrogen peroxide to tissues. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2005 Sep 20;102(38):13604–9. Epub 2005 Sep 12.
2. Cameron E, Pauling L. Supplemental ascorbate in the supportive treatment of cancer: Prolongation of survival times in terminal human cancer.
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 1976 Oct;73(10):3685–9. The original paper is posted at
Also: Cameron E, Pauling L, Leibovitz B. Ascorbic acid and cancer: a review.
Cancer Res. 1979 Mar;39(3):663–81.
3. Full text papers listed and accessible at no charge at
4. Casciari, J.J., Riordan NH, Schmidt, T.L., Meng, X.L., Jackson JA, Riordan HD. Cytotoxicity of ascorbate, lipoic acid, and other antioxidants in hollow fibre in vitro tumours.
British J Cancer. 2001, 84(11), 1544–1550.


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