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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine May 2007
In The News

FDA Approves Trial of Intravenous Vitamin C for Anti-Cancer Therapy

Last fall, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first clinical trial in the US to study whether high doses of intravenous vitamin C are safe and effective in the fight against cancer.

For decades, medicine has been looking at the effects of varying doses of vitamin C against cancer. Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling popularized the use of vitamin C supplements during the 1970s.1

Scientific studies have shown that high doses of vitamin C have had significant anti-cancer effects in some animal models.2 Other early clinical research has demonstrated that intravenous doses of vitamin C may improve symptoms and prolong survival in terminal cancer patients.3

Researchers at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) are taking that work to the next level. The study is being led by a number of researchers, including Dr. Christopher M. Stephenson, an internal medicine specialist at CTCA, based at Midwestern Regional Treatment Center in Zion, Illinois; Dr. Robert D. Levin, chief of medical oncology at CTCA; and Christopher G. Lis, MPH, a clinical epidemiologist and vice president, research and development, CTCA.

“The first few patients have successfully completed the trial,” said Lis. One of those patients is now on a continuation protocol. A third patient recently enrolled, said Dr. Stephenson. The researchers are recruiting a total of 18 patients for the study. The goal of the research is to discover the optimal therapeutic dose of IV vitamin C in cancer care. “To our knowledge, this is the first Phase I study of vitamin C administered intravenously for cancer patients in the US,” said Lis.

Researchers are looking for female and male patients who have been told by their physicians that:

  • They have an advanced-stage, solid tumor
  • They have no other treatment options that provide a clinical benefit
  • They have a life expectancy of at least three months.

Patients must also be non-smokers of at least 18 years of age to be eligible for the non-commercial research trial. They must also have no other anti-cancer therapies scheduled. The patients who are chosen for the trial by the doctors will receive IV vitamin C in high doses, four days a week for four weeks.

Dr. Stephenson said that one of the goals of the research project is to prolong the survival of advanced-stage cancer patients. He notes that the first group of patients will receive roughly 50 grams of IV vitamin C at a rate of 1 gram per minute. The doctors speak with patients on a daily basis during the study. Those who have completed treatment are eligible for continued therapy with vitamin C. Those patients who take more than 325 mg of aspirin may not be eligible for the study, said Dr. Stephenson.

For more information, please contact Christopher G. Lis at christopher.lis@ctca-hope.com.

—Gene J. Koprowski, MA (University of Chicago), is director of research communications at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

Reference

1. Cameron E, Pauling L. The orthomolecular treatment of cancer. I. The role of ascorbic acid in host resistance. Chem Biol Interact. 1974 Oct;9(4):273-83.
2. Bishun N, Basu TK, Metcalfe S, Williams DC. The effect of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) on two tumor cell lines in culture. Oncology. 1978;35(4):160-2.
3. Riordan NH, Riordan HD, Jackson JA, Casciari JP. Clinical and experimental experiences with intravenous vitamin C. Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine. 2000;15(4):201-13.

Diet, Exercise Yield Similar Weight-Loss Effects

Reduced calorie intake and exercise are equally effective in promoting weight loss, according to a recent study.1

To examine the effects of a 25% energy deficit (25% fewer calories consumed each day than calories burned), scientists examined three groups of overweight but otherwise healthy adults. The subjects followed one of these three programs: 1) a healthy weight-maintenance diet; 2) a calorie-restricted diet (25% decrease in energy intake); or 3) a combination of calorie restriction and exercise (12.5% decrease in energy intake and 12.5% increase in exercise-induced energy expenditure).1

After six months, both energy-deficit groups (groups 2 and 3) lost approximately 10% of their body weight, 24% of their body fat, and 27% of their abdominal fat. Fat distribution was not altered by either approach, and adding muscle mass did not boost metabolism or speed weight loss. A modest calorie deficit was also associated with beneficial changes in two longevity-associated markers: a lower core body temperature and a reduced fasting insulin level.2

—Elizabeth Wagner, ND

Reference

1. Redman LM, Heilbronn LK, Martin CK, Alfonso A, Smith SR, Ravussin E. Effect of calorie restriction with or without exercise on body composition and fat distribution. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Jan 2; [Epub ahead of print]
2. Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUSN2623148420070126. Accessed February 7, 2007.

Vitamin D Guards Against Breast, Colorectal Cancers

Two newly published meta-analyses conclude that higher blood levels of vitamin D could prevent up to two thirds of colorectal cancer cases and up to half of breast cancer cases in the US.*

The colorectal cancer meta-analysis reviewed data from five studies in which blood collected from 1,448 healthy participants was tested for vitamin D and subjects were followed for up to 25 years. The researchers reported that raising serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D to 115 nmol/L, corresponding to a daily intake of 2000 IU of vitamin D3, would reduce the incidence of colorectal cancer by two thirds.

The breast cancer meta-analysis included data from studies involving 1,760 women whose vitamin D levels ranged from less than 33 to 130 nmol/L. Women with the lowest blood levels had the highest rates of breast cancer, which dropped as blood levels of 25-hydroxy-vitamin D increased. The researchers concluded that the serum level associated with a 50% reduction in risk could be maintained by taking 2000 IU of vitamin D3 daily.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Available at: http://health.ucsd.edu/news/2007/2_07_Garland.htm. Accessed February 12, 2007.

Subjects Sought for Peripheral Vascular Disease Trial

The Texas Heart Institute in Houston is recruiting people with critical limb ischemia, a form of severe peripheral vascular disease, to participate in an upcoming clinical trial.*

Characterized by hardening of the arteries that supply blood to the legs and feet, peripheral vascular disease can damage nerves and other tissues. Patients face challenges ranging from reduced mobility to dangerous infections and potential amputation. Current treatments, which include surgical bypass of affected arteries, are considered inadequate at best.

The Houston investigators are pioneering the use of patients’ own bone-marrow-derived adult stem cells to help reverse some of the damage to blood vessels. Patients will have their marrow either injected directly into affected limbs or sorted by a machine designed to extract viable stem cells, which will then be injected directly into affected limbs.

Investigators hope that adult stem cells derived from subjects’ bone marrow will help improve blood flow to affected limbs, providing a novel way to treat critical limb ischemia. For more information, call 832-355-9404, visit www.texasheart.org/stemcell, or email plea@heart.thi.tmc.edu.

—Dale Kiefer

Reference

* Available at: http://www.stemcellresearchnews.com/absolutenm/anmviewer.asp?a=431&z=5. Accessed February 20, 2007.

Olive Polyphenols May Ward Off Ulcers, Stomach Cancer

Polyphenols derived from olive oil may help protect against peptic ulcers (of the esophagus, stomach, or upper small intestine) and gastric (stomach) cancers, according to a newly released report.*

Most peptic ulcers, and some gastric cancers, are caused by Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacterium. Antibiotic treatment of H. pylori is lengthy and difficult, as antibiotic-resistant microorganisms are increasingly prevalent worldwide.

Polyphenols are powerful antioxidants thought to be responsible for many of the health-promoting effects of fruits and vegetables. Olive oil is also an abundant source of these phyto-chemicals. In the laboratory, scientists noted that polyphenols derived from olive oil were highly stable in an aqueous, acidic environment similar to that of the stomach. They also displayed potent bacteria-killing effects against eight different strains of H. pylori, including three antibiotic-resistant strains. The antibacterial effects of olive polyphenols were even stronger than those of polyphenols from tea, wine, and other plant extracts. Even very low concentrations of olive polyphenols effectively killed H. pylori bacteria.

—Elizabeth Wagner, ND

Reference

* Romero C, Medina E, Vargas J, Brenes M, Castro AD. In vitro activity of olive oil polyphenols against Helicobacter pylori. J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Feb 7; 55(3):680-6.

Vegetables, Nutrients Lower Risk of BPH

Johns Hopkins researchers report that vegetables, beta-carotene, lutein, and vitamin C have a protective effect against benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a common condition in older men.* BPH is associated with lower urinary tract symptoms thought to be caused by enlargement of the prostate gland.

The study evaluated data from 51,529 participants who enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow Up Study in 1986. Dietary questionnaires at enrollment and every two years collected information on new diagnoses. The risk of BPH decreased with increased vegetable intake. Men whose vegetable intake was in the top fifth of participants had an 11% lower risk of BPH than those whose intake was in the lowest fifth. Fruits and vegetables rich in beta-carotene and lutein, and those high in vitamin C, were separately found to be protective.*

The study authors concluded, “Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that a diet rich in vegetables and in beta-carotene, lutein, and vitamin C derived from foods may reduce the occurrence of BPH.”

—Dayna Dye

Reference

*Rohrmann S, Giovannucci E, Willett WC, Platz EA. Fruit and vegetable consumption, intake of micronutrients, and benign prostatic hyperplasia in US men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Feb;85(2):523-9.

Natural Fiber May Reduce Overeating, Improve Lipids

Canadian scientists have uncovered evidence that a natural fiber known as oligofructose may help reduce overeating and improve blood lipids.*

Available as a dietary supplement, this non-digestible food compound selectively stimulates the growth or activity of certain bacteria in the colon. In animal studies, oligofructose increased levels of the satiety hormone glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1) and of a gene in the intestines that helps the body to create more GLP-1. Lean and genetically obese rats that were fed diets enhanced with oligofructose and inulin (another fiber) for eight weeks greatly lowered their food intake and improved their blood lipid profiles. Scientists at the University of Calgary are now launching the first human trial of the fiber.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Available at: http://ihealthbulletin.com/blog/2007/01/31/fos-natural-probiotic-supplement-may-promote-weight-loss/. Accessed February 12, 2007.

Calcium Reduces Colorectal Polyp Recurrence

Dartmouth Medical School researchers report that supplementing with calcium helps prevent the recurrence of colorectal polyps over a multi-year period.* Polyps, or adenomas, are non-cancerous tumors that are a precursor to colorectal cancer.

The scientists followed 822 men and women who took a daily supplement providing 1200 mg of calcium over four years. Calcium reduced the risk of polyp recurrence by 17% compared to a placebo. The subjects were then followed for an additional period averaging seven years. Over the first five years of follow-up, those who received calcium supplements in the previous study had a 37% lower adjusted risk of adenoma recurrence compared to placebo. The calcium-supplemented subjects also lowered their risk of advanced adenomas.

“Our study provides further evidence of the potential of calcium as a chemopreventive agent against colorectal adenomas among individuals with a history of these tumors,” the authors concluded.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Grau MV, Baron JA, Sandler RS, et al. Prolonged effect of calcium supplementation on risk of colorectal adenomas in a randomized trial. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2007 Jan 17;99(2):129-36.

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