By Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology

Vitamin C is most commonly associated with citrus fruits and common cold prevention. However, vitamin C is much more than that and is recognized as a powerful antioxidant that plays a vital role in preventing, progressing, and treating cancer. Some cancers that vitamin C has been studied to help prevent include pulmonary and breast cancer.

Image/paulbr75 via pixabay

This powerful vitamin, also known as L-ascorbic acid, helps protect our cells against the damage caused by free radicals. Health benefits of vitamin C include wound healing and improved immune function. The vitamin also helps repair and maintain healthy bones, teeth, and cartilage. When our bodies don’t get enough vitamin C, we experience symptoms of vitamin C deficiency.

The body doesn’t naturally produce vitamin C. And the only way to get it is from your diet. The following foods are high in the superhero vitamin:

● Oranges
● Kiwi
● Lemon
● Grapefruit
● Bell peppers
● Tomatoes
● Cantaloupe
● Strawberries
● Broccoli
● Brussels sprouts
● Cabbage
● Cauliflower

● White potatoes

You can also take supplements in capsules and chewable tablets. However, not taking oral vitamin C supplements in the appropriate doses can cause side effects, such as:

● Headaches
● Fatigue
● Stomach cramps
● Nausea
● Diarrhea
● Vomiting
● Heartburn

● Skin flushing

Vitamin C and Cancer Prevention

Free radicals are unstable molecules that can occur in normal cell metabolism. When they build up in the cells, they cause damage to the other molecules, including DNA. When free radicals overwhelm the body, it can suffer from oxidative stress. Damage caused by free radicals contributes to the cause of numerous chronic health conditions, including cardiovascular and inflammatory disease, cataracts, and cancer. Oxidative stress can increase our risk of developing diseases that increase our risk for cancer, including diabetes and autoimmune and inflammatory disorders. For example, people with diabetes are at a higher-than-normal risk of developing liver, pancreas, colon, bladder, and breast cancer. People with autoimmune diseases are at higher risk of blood, lymph nodes, and bone marrow cancers.

We can be exposed to free radicals by consuming high glycemic foods, processed meats, red meat, and alcohol. Other external sources of free radicals include exposure to industrial chemicals, air pollutants, the ozone, x-rays, and cigarette smoking.

When free radicals are circulating in the body and increasing our risk for cancer, the way to counterattack them is through antioxidants like vitamin C, which helps prevent free radicals from causing cell damage by neutralizing them, acting as a scavenger to destroy free radicals and protecting normal tissue from the harmful effects of carcinogens.

The complete relationship between vitamin C and cancer prevention is still under study. However, we know that vitamin C plays a vital role in keeping our bodies healthy and, therefore, at lower risk for diseases that increase our risk of developing cancer.