Overview of Some Nutritional Approaches to Cancer

Cancer II



People with cancer are fairly often cured for no known reason. This is called spontaneous remission, and it happens every day. Somehow, the body has destroyed the cancer by itself. Anything we can do to encourage this is most worthwhile. One way we may be able to assist the body is with vitamins and other nutrients. 

There are several nutritional aspects to look at in cancer treatment. One of the most important is vitamin C. 


Vitamin C is essential to the formation of collagen, the protein "glue" that holds our cells together. Think of cells in a cell tissue like bricks in a wall.  The strength of a brick wall is not truly in the bricks, for a stack of bricks can easily be pushed apart. So might a group of cells. Collagen is the "mortar" that binds your cells together, just as mortar binds bricks together. If collagen is abundant and strong, your cells hold together well. If cells stick together, tumors have a tough time spreading through them. Strong collagen can thereby arrest the spread of cancer. 

Cancer cells secrete a substance called hyaluronidase, which helps them eat away at collagen and break out into the rest of the body. This is described in great detail in the book Hyaluronidase and Cancer, by Ewan Cameron, M.D., Pergamon Press, 1966. Dr. Cameron, in a now famous collaboration with Linus Pauling, Ph.D., has offered evidence that high vitamin C levels maximize collagen production. If cancer cells are going to try to spread by destroying a person's collagen, it just makes sense to make lots more collagen to keep them from doing it. 

To do this, a person fighting cancer probably needs enormous amounts of any substance that helps make collagen. One such substance is vitamin C. Curiously enough, persons with cancer commonly have exceptionally LOW levels of vitamin C in their bodies. This might help explain why their collagen has not been able to prevent cancer from spreading. 

There is nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying regular high doses of vitamin C with any cancer patient. 


Another reason to use vitamin C in cancer treatments is that vitamin C helps strengthen the immune system. Maximum immune function is vital if we want the body to kill cancer. Yet medical treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy actually weaken the immune system a great deal.  There are, then, really two reasons to bolster immunity with vitamin C. First, large quantities of the vitamin often enable a person to more easily tolerate large doses of radiation and chemotherapy, with far fewer side effects. Second, stronger immune function can only help the patient to fight the disease better in general. 


In England, it is not uncommon for terminally ill patients to receive narcotics as strong as heroin to ease their pain. One side benefit of vitamin C studies at Vale of Leven Hospital in Scotland was profound pain relief. Patients given ten grams (ten thousand milligrams) of intravenous vitamin C each day had greatly reduced pain even after the narcotic was discontinued (Cancer and Vitamin C, by Ewan Cameron, M.D. and Linus Pauling, Ph.D., Warner Books, 1981). 


Vitamin C is most effective given intravenously. 

Padayatty et al. Intravenously administered vitamin C as cancer therapy: three cases. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 2006. 174(7), March 28, p 937-942. http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/reprint/174/7/937

Appropriately detailed information for doctors is available in Dr. Cameron's "Protocol for the Intravenous Use of Vitamin C in the Treatment of Cancer" posted on this website under "Cameron Protocol." Additional directions for administering vitamin C by I.V., written by Robert F. Cathcart, M.D., are posted on this website under "Vitamin C I.V." Still more injectable vitamin C dosage information is found in "Significance of High Daily Intake of Ascorbic Acid in Preventive Medicine," by Frederick R. Klenner, M.D., in A Physician's Handbook on Orthomolecular Medicine, Roger J. Williams and Dwight K. Kalita, ed., Keats Publishing Co., 1977. 

Vitamin C may also be taken by mouth, but this is not ideal. To approximate the constancy of an intravenous drip it is necessary to have very frequent oral doses. A dose of the vitamin every half hour that the patient is awake is not excessive. The amount of each dose is the maximum amount that a person can tolerate without diarrhea. Diarrhea indicates bodily saturation with the vitamin. Results may require truly large daily totals.  Remember that oral doses are not as efficient as intravenous vitamin C, so it takes much more to do the job. "C" given orally has to be absorbed through the digestive tract, and a good bit of it isn't. 

Generally speaking, the sicker the patient, the more "C" s/he can hold. Let's say a person has diarrhea at just five hundred milligrams (0.5 g) per dose and a daily total of less than 20,000 mg (20 g). This indicates a NEED for relatively little of the vitamin. A person with pneumonia (or cancer) may have an immune system that would soak up as much as 200,000 mg per day. 

That is a lot of vitamin C, but then we are also asking a lot of it. 

It is important to be consistent with large quantities of vitamin C. It needs to be taken EVERY DAY and VERY OFTEN. Taking the vitamin sporadically is of little value, and may result in a rebound effect of temporary deficiency. Taking too much at one time may result in a false saturation diarrhea. Almost anyone taking 6,000 mg or more of vitamin C AT ONE TIME will experience diarrhea, yet the cancer patient might really be able to hold more than twenty times that amount IF TAKEN IN SMALLER, DIVIDED DOSES throughout the entire day. 

Evidence indicates that vitamin C does not interfere with conventional cancer treatments and may in fact assist them. 


Several vitamins and minerals continue to show value in the prevention and treatment of cancer. Principal among these are vitamin A, vitamin E, and selenium. 


High doses of vitamin A have proved effective against a number of forms of cancer. Vitamin A acceptance as therapy is probably slow due to the potential toxicity of the oil form of the vitamin when taken in enormous quantities for a long time. However, the vitamin A precursor, called carotene or provitamin A, is strictly non-toxic regardless of quantity or duration. It is also more effective against cancer than the oil form. The body internally converts stored beta-carotene into vitamin A on demand. It is the totally safe carotene form that needs to be given, and in very high doses. 

The effective amount of carotene may exceed 500,000 International Units (I.U.) daily. Physicians need to remember that a harmless carotenosis, or orange-colored skin, is the only side effect of massive provitamin A dosage. That amount of carotene can be obtained from six to eight glasses of fresh carrot juice per day. Such a natural source guarantees a mixture of all the different forms of carotene, which is more therapeutically effective than just the beta form.


Vitamin E is an antioxidant and free radical scavenger that seems to help prevent cell damage related to cancer. It is a fat-soluble vitamin with no known toxicity. Doses of 800 to 1200 I.U. are commonly employed. 


Regions of the United States with this trace mineral in their soil have less cancer than those regions that don't. Research has indicated that selenium works with vitamin E both to protect body cells and to slow tumor growth. Only a very small amount of selenium is needed for this beneficial effect, probably between 50 and 200 micrograms (mcg) daily. Selenium should not be taken in large amounts. 


"I see in Dr. Max Gerson one of the most eminent geniuses in medical history." 
Albert Schweitzer, M.D.) 

 In the late 1920's, Max Gerson, M.D. began curing cancer with nutrition. His treatment is detailed in A CANCER THERAPY: Results of Fifty Cases (Third Edition, by Max Gerson, Gerson Institute, CA, 1977). There is no book like this one. It is full of detailed case histories including X-ray photographs, charts and dosage schedules, and lists of all necessary materials. 

The Gerson therapy works towards the detoxification and nutritional restoration of the body, focusing on the liver. This is accomplished primarily through intensive feeding with raw vegetable juices, natural foods, and supplements. It is a labor intensive program, and takes a minimum of 18 months to complete. Hospitalization is not a requirement. Dr. Gerson achieved remarkable results even from diagnosed terminal patients. It would be difficult to justify denying any patient the potential benefits of this proven nutritional program. It can't hurt to try it. 

A site search for “Gerson” from the www.doctoryourself.com mainpage will bring up a good deal of additional information on the Gerson therapy.


Traditional medical treatments have focused on how to go in and kill cancer with chemicals or radiation. It is likely that this approach will change in favor of trying to get the patient's BODY to kill the cancer. A well nourished body will have the best chance of doing this. During the crisis of cancer, the immune system needs to be boosted with appropriately high doses of vitamins C, E, and A as beta carotene and a trace of selenium. 

Oncologists can get nearly as discouraged as their patients when conventional cancer treatments fail. That is the point where hope does NOT have to be lost. If the answer is not here, than maybe it is indeed THERE. Every stone must be turned over in our effort to get well. It is the doctor's duty to do whatever s/he can to help the patient recover. This must include using therapeutic quantities of vitamins. 


Physicians and patients that are confused by conflicting reports on vitamin C and cancer need to refer to pages 163-180 (Chapter 19) in How To Live Longer and Feel Better, by Linus Pauling, Ph.D. (W. H. Freeman and Co., 1986) and the book Vitamin C and Cancer: Discovery, Recovery, Controversy by Abram Hoffer, MD, PhD (Quarry Press, Kingston, Ontario, 1999)  ISBN  1-55082-078-8 

A list of doctors that use or support the use of nutritional therapies for cancer is available from the CANCER CONTROL SOCIETY, 2043 North Berendo Street, Los Angeles, CA 90027 http://www.cancercontrolsociety.com


Information on the successful nutritional cancer therapy of Max Gerson, M.D. is available from the GERSON INSTITUTE, P. O. Box 430, Bonita, CA 91908  http://www.gerson.org


Copyright  C  2004 and prior years Andrew W. Saul. 

Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at http://www.doctoryourself.com/review.html ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at http://www.doctoryourself.com/saulbooks.html )

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Andrew W. Saul


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Last Updated:
January 2008


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