Chemo side-effects may be helped by using vitamin C

Taking vitamin C may help to lessen the side effects of chemotherapy, according to a study from the University of Kansas.1

The researchers originally tested to see if intravenous vitamin C boosted the effect of chemotherapy, specifically for women with ovarian cancer. However, while these results were inconclusive, they did see some evidence to suggest it had helped with side effects.

After some earlier lab-based investigations, the last stage of the study featured 27 women with late-stage ovarian cancer. The vitamin C was used alongside carboplatin, which is the main chemotherapy drug used for ovarian cancer treatment. The trial was randomised, and so some of the group received standard chemotherapy, while others also received chemotherapy with an additional high dose of intravenous vitamin C.

While survival rates after a five-year period for both groups were similar, those who had taken the additional vitamin C reported a significantly lower problem with chemotherapy side-effects than the other group.

It should be stated that the women who were taking the vitamin C were aware of it, and so it is possible that there was a placebo effect shown in the results. However, the results do suggest that there is a potential benefit to using vitamin C to help with chemotherapy side effects, although further research is required before this can be confirmed.


1. Ma Y, Chapman J, Levine M, et al. High-Dose Parenteral Ascorbate Enhanced Chemosensitivity of Ovarian Cancer and Reduced Toxicity of Chemotherapy. Science Translational Medicine. Published online February 5 2014


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