Vitamin C can cure heart disease and cancer_ Linus Pauling, two-times Nobel laureate
Vitamin C can cure heart disease and cancer_ Linus Pauling, two-times Nobel laureate
August 13, 1993
By Michael Wooldridge, MAWooldridge@lbl.gov
One of the great scientific mavericks of this century spoke at LBL August 10, 1993 at a special seminar hosted by the Life Sciences Division’s Lipoprotein and Atherosclerosis Group. Linus Pauling, two-time Nobel laureate and the world’s foremost vitamin C proponent, entertained an overflow crowd in the Bldg. 66 auditorium with a talk on Vitamin C and Heart Disease.
The lively 92-year-old first gave a candid history of how he came to take up the vitamin C cause. He was introduced to the subject by biochemist Irwin Stone in 1966. Five years later, he would pen “Vitamin C and the Common Cold,” and then boldly go on to champion vitamin C as a fighter of more serious diseases such as cancer.
According to Pauling, the vitamin’s versatility in illness prevention arises from its role in the manufacture of collagen, the protein that gives shape to connective tissues and strength to skin and blood vessels.
One of the great misfortunes of human evolution, Pauling explained, was when our human ancestors lost their ability to manufacture vitamin C. Pauling thinks the trait was probably discarded at a time when our ancestors had a diet of vitamin-rich plants and didn’t need to produce the vitamin themselves. This left today’s primates (including humans) as one of the few groups of animals that must get the vitamin through the diet.
Ever since proto-humans moved out of fruit-and-vegetable-rich habitats, Pauling said, they have suffered great deficiencies of vitamin C. Pauling has forthrightly recommended that people make up for this deficiency with daily doses of vitamin C much greater than the 60 mg generally recommended.
He said our vitamin C consumption should be on par with what other animals produce by themselves, typically 10-12 grams a day. Pauling practices what he preaches, having gradually upped his daily doses of vitamin C from 3 grams in the 1960s to a hefty 18 grams today.
Pauling went on to discuss vitamin C’s connection with lipoprotein-a, a substance whose levels in the blood have been linked to cardiovascular disease. Lipoprotein-a is also a major component of the plaques found in the blood vessels of atherosclerosis patients.
Pauling has published studies asserting that lipoprotein-a is a surrogate for vitamin C, serving to strengthen blood vessel walls in the absence of adequate amounts of the vitamin in the diet. In the lecture, Pauling noted that animals which, unlike humans, manufacture their vitamin C and have much higher levels of the vitamin in their bodies, have very little lipoprotein-a in their blood.
Pauling is convinced that doses of vitamin C can help prevent the onset of cardiovascular disease, inhibiting the formation of disease-promoting lesions on blood vessel walls and perhaps decreasing the production of lipoprotein-a in the blood. Vitamin C’s link to healthy blood vessels, Pauling said, is further supported by studies of scurvy, the disease caused by vitamin C deficiency. Fifty percent of patients who die of scurvy, he said, do so because of ruptured blood vessels.
Pauling won his first Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1954 for using quantum mechanics to elucidate the nature of chemical bonds. He garnered a Nobel Peace Prize in 1962 for his efforts to stem nuclear weapons proliferation.
The scientist founded the Linus Pauling Institute in Palo Alto, where research on vitamin C and other nutrients continues today. He currently resides in Big Sur.
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Here is an article written by Dr Hilary Roberts about Linus Pauling and his views on vitamin C. Summary
It is the 10th anniversary of the death of Linus Pauling and his most controversial scientific conjectures about the health benefits of vitamin C are being confirmed. The weight of evidence may yet force the medical establishment to accept his ideas on nutrition and health.
Linus Pauling’s claim, that he knew a cure for heart disease, cancer and infections, was greeted with ridicule. His remarkable health claims concerned the substance we know as vitamin C. Now, ten years after his death on 19th August 1994, his revolutionary ideas are finally on the way to vindication. Given his history, it should not surprise us if Pauling was right all along. He was, after all, the leading chemist of the last century and, arguably, the greatest ever American scientist. He remains the only person to have won two unshared Nobel Prizes, the first for Chemistry (1954) and the second for peace (1962). In addition to being one of the greatest scientists ever, he was a renowned humanitarian.
By the time of his death, the medical establishment had branded Pauling a quack, because he advocated the use of high doses of vitamin C to treat many diseases. Irwin Stone first introduced Pauling to vitamin C, and explained that it wasn’t really a vitamin at all, but an essential substance we could no longer manufacture in our bodies. Most animals make their own vitamin C, in large amounts. In humans, the gene for this ability has mutated and no longer works properly.
When Pauling looked into Stone’s claims, he found that conventional medicine had long ignored evidence from respected physicians and scientists. This research suggested that high doses of vitamin C might be a cure for many illnesses, including cancer and heart disease. However, when he explained these findings in his wonderfully constructed books “Vitamin C and the Common Cold” and “How to Live Longer and Feel Better”, the medical profession was incensed, implying that a mere chemist could not possibly understand the intricacies of medical science.
If Pauling was correct, vitamin C could help overcome the major killers in the industrialised world. This sounded so unlikely that a lesser scientist making the claim would probably have been ignored; the medical world had already disregarded similar reports of vitamin C. Linus Pauling had a reputation for being 20 years ahead of other scientists.
He may well have been years ahead in other fields but, in medicine, the insiders considered such a thing to be impossible. Pauling battled with the medical authorities and convinced a lot of the public of the benefits of high dose vitamin C. He took on the medical establishment because the implication for health was enormous: an end to premature death and unnecessary suffering from heart disease, infection and many cancers.
Since Pauling’s death, the medical establishment has reclaimed the scientific position with a series of experiments on vitamin C. In particular, the NIH measured the distribution of vitamin C in the body and claimed that Pauling was wrong about the need for high doses, as the blood could be saturated at low doses [Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 93, 3704-9.]. They added that doses higher than one gram were potentially dangerous. From this point on, the high dose vitamin C lobby were on the defensive.
If the body could be saturated at low doses, the argument went, higher doses were simply a waste or even potentially dangerous. However, clinical reports of the utility of high dose vitamin C had been repeated in the literature for over 50 years. These reports continued, particularly in the fields of heart disease, infections and cancer, contradicting the NIH conclusions. Either the clinical reports of the efficacy of high doses were incorrect, or the NIH experimental work was flawed.
Taking note of this inconsistency, Drs Steve Hickey and Hilary Roberts decided to investigate the data for a book (“Ascorbate, the science of vitamin C”, http://www.lulu.com/ascorbate). They began by looking at the apparently ludicrous claims for the medical effects of vitamin C. Pauling had stated that the substance could cure cancer and that shortage was the major cause of heart disease. Among his many scientific advances, Pauling had made occasional errors: perhaps he had done the same with vitamin C. If he was wrong, his hypotheses should be easy to refute.
When they examined the evidence, Hickey and Roberts found background evidence for Pauling’s ideas from independent scientific and medical reports, covering half a century. The findings in these papers could neither be dismissed as placebo effects nor easily explained. The reports included remission of AIDS, cures for cancer, and the immediate recovery of children at the point of death from septic shock. The claims seemed so out of the ordinary that they were hard to believe. However, Hickey and Roberts could find no counter examples in the scientific or medical literature.
If these positive reports were indeed wrong, no-one had shown this to be true. The scientific evidence was consistent with Pauling’s ideas, with a few notable exceptions. The primary exception was the NIH data on blood and tissue saturation. The medical establishment accepted the NIH conclusions and held them in the highest regard. The US Institute of Medicine had based their official recommended dietary allowance (RDA) on these results. If the NIH was correct, then Pauling was wrong and the positive reports of high doses must be invalid.
The NIH conclusions were not correct, however. Hickey and Roberts examined their experiments and found them to be full of errors. For example, the researchers had given a dose of vitamin C, waited until it had been excreted and then measured blood levels. Using this procedure, they found that increasing the dose did not greatly increase the blood levels. Instead of realising that this was because the dose had been excreted, the NIH claimed it was because the body was saturated, so higher doses were redundant. They then used white blood cells as a model for normal cells, to see how they absorbed vitamin C from their surroundings. These white blood cells are specialised to absorb vitamin C, even when supplies are low. If other body cells were similar to white blood cells, we would normally have a reserve of 40 grams in our bodies. In this case, given the proposed RDA of 200mg, it would take 2-3 years to fill a depleted body. This is demonstrably incorrect: the classic example is that James Lind’s sailors recovered from scurvy in a matter of days when they were given citrus fruits containing small amounts of vitamin C.
These mistakes were gross and unsupportable. In order to check their re-interpretation of the data, Hickey sent emails to the NIH, the Institute of Medicine and every scientist he could contact who was associated with the RDA, asking them to provide a reasonable scientific response to these errors. No-one was able to provide such a response. Since it is normal scientific practice to explain and defend your ideas, the hypothesis that people only need small amounts of vitamin C looks increasingly shaky.
Even the NIH’s subsequent data contradicts their earlier work. The NIH vitamin C group published a series of papers on vitamin C and cancer [Ann Intern Med, 140(7), 533-7.]. In these papers, they suggested that repeated doses of oral vitamin C would produce blood levels of at least 220 microM (a measure of the concentration) , which is three times greater than the 70 microM maximum “saturated” value they claimed in their RDA papers. While their own papers clearly showed that their low-dose claims were wrong, the NIH appeared not to notice. Instead, they suggested that intravenous doses could produce higher blood levels, which might be effective against cancer. Even though their data were coming closer to Pauling’s findings on the use of vitamin C in cancer, the NIH took the opportunity to mount another attack on Linus Pauling, suggesting he did not know the difference between oral and intravenous (IV) vitamin C.
Pauling had performed a series of trials with Dr Ewan Cameron, a Scottish cancer specialist, showing that intravenous vitamin C allowed cancer patients to live much longer than expected. Numerous other studies confirmed this effect, particularly the work of Dr Abram Hoffer and Dr Hugh Riordan. The Mayo Clinic tried to refute this research but failed, as they used low, oral doses, making their results invalid. In their own cancer paper, the NIH researchers claimed that Pauling and Cameron’s use of the IV route was “serendipitous”, implying that Pauling did not know the difference between injected and oral doses. In fact, Pauling had written explicitly about this difference, so the NIH criticism was misplaced.
A new scientific theory, called the dynamic flow model, explains all the observed responses to vitamin C in the literature. This model is described in the book “Ascorbate”, mentioned above. According to the model, people should ideally be in a state of dynamic flow, which means they should ingest more vitamin C than they need, in the form of divided dose supplements. The extra ascorbate flows through the body and is excreted in the urine. It is not wasted, however, as the excess acts as a reservoir when extra vitamin C is required. Dynamic flow is the closest we humans can get to restoring our physiology to how it was before we lost the ability to make vitamin C in our bodies, as most other animals still do.
It is difficult to imagine what Linus Pauling would have made of all this had he lived. Hickey and Roberts like to think that he would have pointed out the NIH errors earlier. He might have had fun explaining that the NIH could not perform a simple experiment, yet tried to blame him for the deficiencies in the Mayo Clinic’s research. It is now 10 years since Pauling’s death. Biologist Ren� Dubos suggested that the mainstream converges with Pauling twenty years later. If so, we only have another decade to wait until the medical establishment can admit that Pauling was right all along.
Dr. Hilary Roberts
Dr. Linus Pauling on vitamin C
Dr Linus Pauling, often referred to as the “Father of Vitamin C” and twice awarded the Nobel Prize, declared that large intakes of up to 10 grams of vitamin C each day aids anti-cancer activity within the body.
Pauling was largely ridiculed for making these declarations, but today, large doses of Vitamin C are used by many practitioners for cancer patients in nutritional therapies, who believe Pauling was right and that vitamin C is indispensable to the body in its fight to regain health from cancer.
Linus Pauling wrote the book, “How to Live Longer and Feel Better”. (He also wrote “Vitamin C and the Common Cold”) . I had heard of Linus Pauling and since living longer and feeling better sounded desirable, I bought the book. I was captivated. Pauling presents the case for Vitamin C supplementation so well and backs it up with so much evidence that this is a book I highly recommend.
To find out what Linus Pauling, 2-time Nobel Prize laureate, thought about vitamin C supplementation, let’s look at an excerpt from an interview with Linus Pauling and Tony Edwards for QED BBC Television.
Q: What do you feel about the major criticism that anything over 100mg of vitamin C is a waste of money and goes down the drain because it’s eliminated by the body ?
A: The evidence shows that this is just not true. I myself, 20 years ago or more, read this statement, probably made by Fred Stare, professor then at Harvard School of Public Health, and I decided to check. I was taking 10 grams per day of vitamin C. I collected my urine for 24 hours and analyzed it myself for the vitamin C content.
Instead of nearly 10,000mg being eliminated in the urine, 9850mg, I found only 1,500mg, 15% of the dose that I was taking during this trial, so the statement just is not true. Of course, some of the ingested ascorbate remains in the intestinal contents and doesn’t get into the blood stream. It may be as much as 1/3.
Some evidence indicates that perhaps as much as 1/3 remains in the intestinal contents. Well, this does good, protecting the lower bowel against cancer by destroying carcinogens that are present in the fecal material and also does good because of the laxative effect of bringing water into the bowel so that the volume of the waste material is larger.
There’s also a smaller surface area which helps speed up the process of elimination of this material. The rest of it, 2/3 perhaps 6.5 grams when I was taking 10 grams a day, gets into the blood stream but only 1.5 grams is eliminated in the urine.
So we can ask what happens to the other 5 grams? The answer I’m sure, in fact we have direct experimental evidence for it, is that vitamin C is rapidly converted into other substances, oxidation products and these other substances, these oxidation products have been shown to have greater value against cancer than vitamin C itself.
So if you take large doses of vitamin C you produce large amounts of these other substances, the value of which is still under investigation. We have been studying it for fifteen years.
Q: How do you decide how much vitamin C is right for you and, if you take 3 grams should it be split throughout the day ?
In my opinion adults should be taking at least 2 grams a day. There is much evidence about increased health with 2 grams a day, and of course even more with 4 or 6 grams a day. Even an extra 60mg had been shown to add value in cutting down the death rate from heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Now my feeling is as people grow older they ought to be increasing their vitamin C and perhaps they should follow the policy that I have followed of increasing the intake.
It can be either one chunk, one dose in the morning, or even better 3 doses throughout the day, increasing the intake until a laxative effect is observed, speeding up the rate of elimination of waste material from the bowel. So my suggestion is every person who wants to have the best of health should increase the intake of vitamin C to somewhat less than the amount that causes significant looseness of the bowel.
Scientific studies and vitamin C
Are there any studies out there which actually show that vitamin C is beneficial? As the following studies demonstrate, vitamin C can enhance the immune function in a number of ways:
Healthy adults: In a 1981 study, healthy adults received 1 gram of vitamin C intravenously. One hour later, the neutrophil motility (how fast your white blood cells can move) and leukocyte transformation in the subjects’ blood had increased significantly.
Other studies support the finding that vitamin C enhances the leukocyte function. Vitamin C has also been shown to decrease bacteriological activity.(1)
Chronically ill adults: Recent studies indicate that vitamin C has a positive effect on patients suffering from a variety of chronic disorders. In one large study, 260 patients with viral hepatitis A took 300 mg of vitamin C/day for several weeks. The researchers, who studied immune indicators, such as serum immunoglobulin and neutrophil phagocytosis (how well your white blood cells can engulf and digest foreign bodies), concluded that vitamin C “exerts a remarkable immuno-modulating action.”(2) – that’s a complicated way of saying your immune system functions better because of it.
Vitamin C and heart disease
French and German researchers found that vitamin C appeared to keep cells in the blood vessel wall from dying. They believe this protection from cell death could explain previous study findings which suggest that vitamin C benefits blood vessel function in people with congestive heart failure.(3)
A study found that long-term administration of vitamin C reverses endothelial vasomotor dysfunction in patients with coronary artery disease. Researchers instructed patients with documented coronary artery disease to take a single oral dose of either 2 g vitamin C or a placebo. The dose of vitamin C improved dilation of the brachial artery, as assessed by a high-resolution vascular ultrasound done 2 hours later. The researchers reported that the effect was sustained among patients who subsequently took 1/2 gram of vitamin C daily for 30 days.(4)
Vitamin C and the risk of stroke
Individuals with high blood levels of vitamin C have significantly reduced risk of stroke, according to a recently published long-term study (5). “To my knowledge, this is the first prospective study to make the correlation between vitamin C in the bloodstream and incidence of stroke,” says author Tetsuji Yokoyama, M.D., research associate in epidemiology at the Medical Research Institute of Tokyo Medical and Dental University. The risk of stroke was inversely related to vitamin C in the bloodstream in this study.
It is important to realize that ideally we should get our vitamin C from the foods we eat. Using supplements as a substitute for whole foods and expect to get healthy is delusional. You must consume whole unprocessed foods to maximize your health. Good sources of vitamin C are green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, tomatoes, berries, guavas, melons, papayas, etc.
Can vitamin C help to prevent or treat cancer ?
Over the years, many studies have found that vitamin C is an effective anti-cancer agent. Vitamin C works in the following ways to help the body fight cancer cells:
Studies suggest that vitamin C’s antioxidant mechanisms may help to prevent cancer in several ways. Vitamin C combats the peroxidation of lipids, for example, which has been linked to degeneration and the aging process. One study of elderly people found that 400 mg of vitamin C per day (for a one-year period) reduced serum lipid peroxide levels. Vitamin C can also work inside the cells to protect the DNA from the damage caused by free radicals. In several studies, report the researchers Gaby and Singh, vitamin C reduced the level of potentially destructive genetic alterations or chromosome aberrations.(6)
Many of the pollutants which now pervade our environment can cause carcinogenic, toxic or mutagenic effects. Vitamin C may be able to combat these harmful effects, in part by stimulating detoxifying enzymes in the liver. In another study, vitamin C was shown to block the formation of fecal mutagens.(7)
Finally, vitamin C can reduce the development of nitrosamines from nitrates, chemicals which are commonly used in processed foods. Once formed, nitrosamine can become carcinogens. In several human studies(8), in which the subjects consumed a nitrosamine precursor, the urinary levels of nitrosamines were significantly reduced by vitamin C.
As far back as the 1940s, researchers began to note a connection between the incidence of cancer and low blood levels in the body or a dietary deficiency of vitamin C. Studies conducted in the past 10 years have confirmed that link. According to 2 studies from the early 1980s, 2 to 5 grams of vitamin C per day can correct these low serum levels and, in some patients, improve the defenses put up by the immune system.(9)
Based on numerous studies, it seems clear that there is a strong relationship between a person’s vitamin C intake and cancer risk. In 1991, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition conducted a comprehensive analysis of some 45 studies on vitamin C’s protective effects against various types of cancer. Of these, 32 studies reported a significant link between vitamin C intake and the incidence of cancer. In fact, a high intake of vitamin C offered twice the protection of a low intake. Many of these studies defined a “high intake” as a daily dosage of 160 mg or more per day; a “low intake” generally was less than 70 mg.(10)
Vitamin C to prevent cataracts ?
Cataracts are a leading cause of blindness in the U.S. Cataracts occur more frequently and become more severe as people get older. Decreased vitamin C levels in the lens of the eye have been associated with increased severity of cataracts in humans. Some, but not all, studies have observed increased dietary vitamin C intake (11) and increased blood levels of vitamin C (12) to be associated with a decreased risk of cataracts.
I spend a lot of time researching the best prices for supplements on the internet. In my opinion the best prices for vitamin C on the internet are here . I also like Puritan Pride’s special “Buy 1 Get 2 FREE” promotions on vitamin C. To enhance the antioxidant properties, it is best to take vitamin C with the other antioxidants, as there is strong evidence of synergy between various antioxidants. Vitamin C can be taken in many different forms, which will be the subject of another article. Vitamin C in powder and crystals form, Ester C, buffered vitamin C, vitamin C in chewable form, in liquid form, etc. The important thing is to make sure vitamin C is part of your diet.