It’s impossible to pinpoint the reasons that some people develop cancer. Sometimes, the disease is caused by genetics or lifestyle. Other times, it seems to happen out of the blue. But although we ultimately can’t control whether or not we get cancer, we can stack the odds in our favor by eating healthy foods and taking the right supplements. Research supports this theory, and according to a recent scientific review, vitamin C may help reduce your risk of a wide variety of cancers, including breast, cervical, bladder, and lung cancers.
A Closer Look at the Study
Published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, the review was written by researchers from Sichuan University, in Chengdu, China. The team explained that vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps the human body complete essential tasks and absorb other nutrients. It’s also one of the most common micronutrients available in fruits and vegetables. It comes as no surprise, then, that scientists have long studied vitamin C for its potential ability to reduce cancer risk.
However, not all studies and scientific reviews have proved that vitamin C reduces the risk of cancer. So, the researchers reviewed over 3,500 articles in the hopes of coming to a more concrete answer. They vetted every article included in their research and didn’t use studies that were written in languages other than English, or studies that used animals other than humans. Ultimately, the researchers narrowed their review down to 57 studies.
After thoroughly examining the data, they found that consuming vitamin C was linked to a lower risk of these cancers:
Vitamin C also correlated with a lower risk of recurring breast cancer and death caused by breast cancer.
In addition, the highest intake of vitamin C was linked to a lower risk of esophageal, gastric, and pancreatic cancers. The vitamin didn’t seem to make much of a difference for colon and colorectal cancers.
Why might vitamin C reduce your risk of certain cancers?
Based on what we already know about vitamin C, the researchers theorized that this micronutrient may protect against cancer because it’s an antioxidant. Specifically, vitamin C may reduce cell damage caused by carcinogens, or substances that may cause cancer in humans (such as aflatoxin, asbestos, or tobacco smoke).
How much vitamin C should you take?
Some researchers believe that the recommended dose should be 75 to 110 milligrams per day, and 90 to 100 milligrams may be optimal. In this scientific review, participants from all the studies took at least 100 milligrams daily.
This doesn’t mean you should take doses much higher than that. Too much vitamin C, especially in supplement form, may cause symptoms like diarrhea and nausea. Be sure to speak with your doctor if you want to boost your daily value with supplements. Whether you choose to add supplements to your diet or meet your vitamin C requirements with fruits and vegetables alone, you can rest easy knowing that a regular dose may lower your cancer risk.