Massive Doses of Ascorbate in the Control of Leukemic Mortality

Dr. Irwin Stone, who celebrated his 76th birthday on November 18th, has been deeply involved with research on vitamin C since 1934, two years after its identity as L-ascorbic acid was established by Szent-Györgyi. Dr. Stone has published more than fifty papers on the medical aspects of vitamin C and is well known for his important book “The Healing Factor - Vitamin C Against Disease”, published in 1972.

In 1912, Casimir Funk, after summarizing the clinical nutrition research of the late 19th Century and early 20th Century, proposed a new theory of disease causation. He postulated that certain diseases could be caused by the lack of some unknown missing essential constituents in foodstuffs. These unknown missing elements he called vitamins and he recognized three groups to which he assigned the letters A, B, & C. Vitamin A was an unknown fat soluble compound which, when missing from the diet of rats, caused serious eye disease. Vitamin B was later found to be a whole group of water soluble vitamins, which, when absent from the diet, caused a severe nerve disease, a paralytic polynetiritis. Vitamin C, of unknown composition and properties, was postulated as causing the deadly disease scurvy, when absent from the diet.

Later work confirmed the correctness of this theory when applied to the vitamins of the A and B groups, but it has been shown to be a gross over simplification when the vitamin theory is applied to vitamin C and scurvy. Our discussion from this point will be confined solely to vitamin C. For the past 70 years, medicine has unqualifiedly accepted the tenets of the vitamin C theory and it has been the blind acceptance of this inadequate theory which has obstructed clinical research and erected barriers to clear thinking regarding its vast therapeutic potential.

Twenty years after the theory was proposed, ascorbic acid was isolated. This work was so highly regarded that two Nobel Prizes were awarded in 1937, one to Albert Szent-Györgyi and the other to Walter Haworth. The chemical synthesis has been so improved that ascorbic acid can now be obtained in wholesale quantities at what amounts to pennies per 1,000 milligrams.

In 1965-67, I demonstrated that clinical scurvy was not the simple dietary disturbance, the avitaminosis C, as it had long been regarded, but was the final, premortal symptom of impending death from a genetic, liver-enzyme disease. This disease I named, “Hypoascorbemia” which is caused by humans carrying a defective gene for the production of the liver enzyme, L-gulonolactone oxidase. I have been able to trace the origin of this defective gene to a mutation occurring in a primate ancestor of Man about 55 million years ago.

The lack of this enzyme in the human liver produces an inborn error of carbohydrate metabolism which prevents us from synthesizing our own ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in our livers. This synthesis is common and normal to most mammals and they produce large amounts each day. It is a stress-responsive process, and, under stress, mammals produce even greater amounts of ascorbic acid. The main function of this large ascorbic acid production during the evolution of the mammals was to maintain homeostasis during biochemical stress. Because of this defective human gene, Man, through out his entire history, has been deprived of this important mammalian protective mechanism. Since all living things require ascorbic acid for survival, this defective gene is the reason we humans need an outside source of ascorbic acid or vitamin C. Because of its many functions in the living process, ascorbic acid is required in much larger daily quantities to correct the genetic disease, hypoascorbemia, than is the amount of vitamin C needed to prevent the clinical scurvy symptoms of avitaminosis C. It has only been in the last 50 years that we have had the technology to correct this inborn error of metabolism, which has been afflicting Man and his primate ancestors for the past 55 million years. Ascorbic acid and vitamin C have been, up to this point, synonymously used, but since it is not a true mammalian vitamin, but rather a liver metabolite, it will, hereafter, be referred to only as “ascorbic acid.”

This defective gene is common to all mankind, therefore, chronic hypoascorbemia is now our most prevalent disease and the basis for our most pressing medical problems. It can be simply corrected with large daily intakes of ascorbic acid - many grams per day.

Now how does all this fit in with the use of ascorbic acid in the treatment of leukemia? In the first place, these new genetic concepts establish the rational for the use of large daily doses of ascorbic acid. The genetic disease, hypoascorbemia, cannot be fully corrected solely by consuming fresh foods. The quantity of ascorbic acid existing in foods is so low that it is physically impossible to consume the weight of fresh foodstuffs necessary to give the required gram quantities of ascorbic acid each day. Our digestive systems are just not geared for it. We have to supplement our intake whether we consider ourselves to be in fair health or are suffering from disease.

The normal mammalian biochemical reaction to stress is for the liver to increase its production of ascorbic acid in an attempt to overcome the bad effects of stress and maintain biochemical homeostasis. Because of the defective gene, Man is unable to manufacture any ascorbic acid in his liver, so any stress just further depletes his usually low body store of this vital substance. Any stress, without ascorbic acid repletion, only makes the patient’s chronic hypoascorbemia more serious. This condition is what was formerly called chronic, subclinical scurvy and has been found in cancer, heart disease, and many other diseases. When a patient dies of cancer, heart disease, and other fatal conditions, it is the severe chronic hypoascorbemia or subclinical scurvy existing in the patient at the time of death which has prevented his survival!

Man has existed on subsistence levels of ascorbic acid for so long that medicine has come to regard these low levels as normal, unless frank clinical scurvy results. It is possible that the chronic subclinical scurvy existing in the victim since infancy may be a factor in initiating the leukemia. These chronic low levels of ascorbic acid may start the wild proliferation of white blood cells, bringing on the leukemic process. While this may be speculation, it is a hard clinical fact that leukemics have pathologically low levels of ascorbic acid in their blood plasma. It is not only the biochemical stresses of the leukemic disease which lowers the plasma ascorbic acid levels, but also the abnormally large volumes of white blood cells which scavenge and remove the remaining ascorbic acid from the blood serum. The white blood cells, which selectively absorb up to 40 times more ascorbic acid from the blood serum than red cells, do a fine job in removing the final traces of ascorbic acid from the blood serum and trap it within their cells and make it unavailable to the tissues.

The fact that there is no ascorbic acid left in the blood plasma deprives the tissues of the body of this most important and essential metabolite. The synthesis of collagen for maintaining the strength of the tissues, the blood vessels and capillaries is dependent on an adequate supply of ascorbic acid in the blood plasma. If the blood plasma is deficient in ascorbic acid, collagen production will stop and the mechanical strength of the tissues, blood vessels and capillaries will weaken, and hemorrhage will result.

Our first line of defense against infection, phagocytosis, is also an ascorbic acid dependent process. Phagocytosis is the gobbling up and digestion of invading bacteria in the blood stream and tissues by white blood cells. Under normal conditions, with a good supply of ascorbic acid in the blood serum, any injury or bacteria getting into the tissues attracts hordes of white cells to the area; and they immediately go to work swallowing and digesting the bacteria and foreign material. In the process of phagocytosis, the number of bacteria ingested and digested is directly related to the blood serum levels of ascorbic acid. When the ascorbic acid levels are low, or absent, phagocytosis stops and the bacteria grow and reproduce in the tissues, and a full blown infection develops.

It is no wonder that what kills most leukemics is not the neoplastic disease itself, but hemorrhage and infection. This is a statistical fact. Both lack of resistance to infections and hemorrhaging are pathognomonic symptoms of scurvy. Leukemics are suffering from uncorrected hypoascorbemia or severe chronic subclinical scurvy in addition to leukemia; and they require high levels of ascorbic acid amounting to many grams per day to conquer their severe hypoascorbemia. If we can prevent them from dying of the manifestations of scurvy, it may be found that leukemia itself may not be such a serious, fatal disease, after all.

There have been many attempts to treat leukemia with ascorbic acid. Most of this work, however, shows the strong influence of the vitamin C theory in misorienting the clinicians doing the work. Except for one case history, all the clinical investigators used low vitamin-like doses of ascorbic acid from 100 milligrams or 200 milligrams a day to 900 milligrams per day. On these low doses, variable and uncertain clinical results were obtained. In the one recorded case where complete remission was achieved and maintained in myelogenous leukemia, the patient took 24 to 42 grams (24,000 to 42,000 milligrams) of ascorbic acid per day.

Let me give you some details from this case history reported in 1954. The patient was a 71-year-old oil executive who was first seen for alcoholic hepatic cirrhosis and polycythemia. Previously he had developed symptoms of chronic rheumatic and arteriosclerotic myocarditis. He was hospitalized and passed a large uric acid bladder stone, and a few months later a diagnosis of chronic myelogenous leukemia was established. He also had intractable pyorrhoea and his remaining 17 teeth were extracted at one operation. The history so far was indicative of severe chronic subclinical scurvy, but it appears that no one bothered to look into the ascorbic acid status of the patient. Apparently, on his own initiative, he started taking ascorbic acid at the rate of 24 to 42 grams (24,000 to 42,000 milligrams) a day, because, as the case history states, “He reported that he felt much better when he took these large doses.” The reporting physician continues, “The patient has repeatedly remarked about his feeling of well-being and has continued his vocation as an executive of an oil company. On two occasions, on my insistence, the ascorbic acid was discontinued as an experiment. Both times his spleen enlarged to the brim of the pelvis, became soft and very tender, his temperature rose to 101 degrees and he complained of general malaise and fatigue. His liver enlarged one finger’s breadth, and became soft and tender. When the ascorbic acid was again started, his signs and symptoms were greatly improved, his temperature becoming normal within six hours. The patient continued on this ascorbic acid regimen for over a year and a half and he died at the age of 73 of acute cardiac decompensation, preceded by a severe attack of epidemic diarrhoea (probably from food poisoning). It was noted that, “At the time of death his spleen was firm, non-tender, and, at the level of the umbilicus, it had not enlarged (in the year and a half)).” The report concluded with this statement, “The intake of the huge dose of ascorbic acid appeared to be essential for the welfare of the patient.” It is inconceivable that no one appears to have followed this up or bothered to try this harmless therapy in any of the thousands of cases of leukemia which appear each year.

What is wrong with our government agencies and the public supported charities for cancer and leukemia that they should ignore such provocative results? The medical fraternity is also remiss because this treatment is so simple and uses such a common, inexpensive commodity as ascorbic acid, which any individual doctor could try because it involves no expensive equipment or laboratories or exotic chemicals or biostatisticians to see the results. It is available to any doctor right now - we do not have to wait for years for double blind controlled testing.

The need for a simple, successful and harmless therapy for this disease is so critical that no suggestion should be left untried, even if the doctor’s mental harriers erected by years of misinformation tell him that it cannot work.

I shall briefly summarize the rationale of the proposed Megascorbic Therapy for Leukemia:

Leukemia is not a single disease but a combination of a neoplastic blood disease and severe biochemical scurvy. The scurvy can be relieved by massive daily dosing with ascorbic acid or sodium ascorbate. The secret is to employ 25 to 100 grams (25,000 to 100,000 milligrams) or more of ascorbate per day (spaced into four or five doses), given orally or intravenously or in a combination of both. Relief of the ascorbutic burden will give the patient a fighting chance for his body to battle with the neoplastic process. It may be found that without the severe biochemical scurvy, leukemia may be a relatively benign, non-fatal condition.

Furthermore, ascorbate, in these large doses, is the only non-toxic, nonspecific virucide known. If leukemia is a virus infection, as some work bad indicated, then the ascorbate would function, not only to clear up the scurvy, but also to attack the actual causative agent of the disease.

This concludes the scientific part of my talk, but I would like to add a few comments. This talk was based on a scientific paper, of similar title, which I wrote in 1966. It was a paper giving this rationale for the Megascorbic Therapy of Leukemia in an attempt to have the therapy clinically tested. During 1967, I sent the paper to three cancer journals and three blood journals in an attempt to have it published. It was refused by all the journals. Two of the journals refused publication without even reading it. The word “Ascorbic” in the title prejudiced the editors and reviewers — they just “knew” it could not work.

For years now it has been collecting dust in my files and I cannot help wondering how many thousands of lives could have been saved and how much suffering could have been avoided had the editors and reviewers just read the paper with an unbiased mind and permitted its publication.

From: Provenance unknown.

Attributed to Dr. Irwin Stone. Probably issued shortly before his death on May 4, 1984.

[Note: It would seem that Dr. Stone died after the introductory heading was prepared, so the introduction should read, “who would have celebrated his 76th birthday on November 18th 1985...”]

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