Vitamin C and cancer prevention

Scientists from Cornell University and Seoul National University have written in the medical journal, The Lancet, to explain the anti-cancer activity of vitamin C. Researchers found that vitamin C blocks the carcinogenic effects of hydrogen peroxide on intercellular communication.

Vitamin C is important for production of collagen, and amino acids; it is important for wound healing.“Vitamin C prevents the inhibition of gap-junction intercellular communication (GJIC) induced by hydrogen peroxide,” says  C.Y. Lee, Cornell professor of food science and technology, GJIC is essential for normal cell growth. Inhibition of GJIC is strongly related to tumor promotion. Hydrogen peroxide, a tumor promoter, inhibits GJIC. When rat liver cells were treated with vitamin C, the researchers report, inhibition of GJIC induced by hydrogen peroxide was prevented.

Vitamin C is a free radical scavenger and protects against oxidative stress (the prevention of damage done to GJIC, however, goes a bit beyond free radical protection). Oxidative stress refers to damage done by free radicals. Free radicals, to explain in a bit of an oversimplified manner, are loose electrons. Certain phytochemicals may be even more of an inhibition to cancer formation. Phytochemicalsare plant pigments that protect from the oxidative stress of photosynthesis. Hydrogen peroxide (mentioned in the previous paragraph), is a source of free radicals. They act like chemical “bullets”. Phytochemcals act as antioxidants; they are sort of like chemical “bullet-proof vests”.

Quercitin, a phytochemical, mentioned in the article, may have an even greater anti-cancer effect than vitamin C. Quercitinis found in apples. So it may be true that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Or, more correctly, a diet rich in vitamin C and phytochemicalsmay help protect against cancer. So eat not only apples, but plenty of dark-colored produce.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.