Vitamin C: A new weapon against melanoma

Credit: Diana Polekhina/Unsplash

A recent study has revealed that vitamin C might be a powerful tool in the fight against melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer.

The research, led by Marcus Cooke, a professor at the University of South Florida, shows that vitamin C can increase DNA damage in melanoma cells, leading to their death.

These findings were published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine.

Melanoma cells have more DNA damage and fewer antioxidants compared to normal skin cells.

When the researchers treated these cancer cells with hydrogen peroxide and vitamin C, they observed even more DNA damage and higher rates of cell death. Interestingly, normal skin cells were protected from this damage.

The study also found that vitamin C made an existing melanoma drug, elesclomol, more effective.

Professor Cooke, who has been studying the effects of antioxidants since the late 1990s, explained, “We’ve been fascinated by vitamin C’s ability to both cause and prevent DNA damage.

Our interest in skin biology and UV radiation led us to this study.”

The team discovered that melanoma cells had higher levels of DNA damage compared to keratinocytes, which are the main cells found in the skin’s outer layer.

This damage was linked to the amount of melanin in the cells—the more melanin, the more damage occurred.

Surprisingly, this damage happened even in cells that were not exposed to sunlight, suggesting that melanin itself can cause damage in melanoma cells.

The study showed that the levels of harmful reactive species were higher in cells with more melanin, while the levels of protective antioxidants were lower. By understanding this, the researchers found a way to selectively kill melanoma cells using vitamin C.

Cooke emphasized the need for further clinical studies to confirm these findings and explore the potential of including vitamin C in melanoma treatments.

“Ascorbate (vitamin C) is already well-studied and known to be safe, so it could be added to existing treatments to enhance their effectiveness, especially those that work by inducing DNA damage like elesclomol,” he said.

Cooke’s lab, which specializes in oxidative stress biomarkers, could help monitor patients in future clinical studies.

In summary, this study suggests that vitamin C could be a valuable addition to melanoma treatments, helping to target and kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells. This discovery opens up new possibilities for more effective melanoma therapies.

If you care about cancer, please read studies that a low-carb diet could increase overall cancer risk, and vitamin D supplements could strongly reduce cancer death.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about how drinking milk affects the risks of heart disease and cancer and results showing higher intake of dairy foods linked to higher prostate cancer risk.