It would likely come as no shock to you that adding Vitamin C to your diet could improve your health—you’ve probably heard about the studies. But just in case you are not yet convinced, maybe a new study could change your mind. The new study suggests you can reduce your risk for developing the deadly blood cancer leukemia, simply by increasing your Vitamin C intake. Or, rather, the study found that people who have lower levels of ascorbate (Vitamin C) are more likely to develop cancer than those who have higher levels, but the mechanisms have not been clear.
The new study, then, shows that stem cells can actually absorb unusually high levels of vitamin C and that can help to regulate cell function and suppress the development of leukemia in the body.
According to lead study author Michalis Agathocleous, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre, “Stem cells use ascorbate to regulate the abundance of certain chemical modifications on DNA, which are part of the epigenome.”
The CRI Assistant Instructor and Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 Research Fellow goes on to say, “The epigenome is a set of mechanisms inside a cell that regulates which genes turn on and turn off. So when stem cells don’t receive enough vitamin C, the epigenome can become damaged in a way that increases stem cell function but also increases the risk of leukemia.”
CRI Director, Dr. Sean Morrison also comments, “We have known for a while that people with lower levels of ascorbate (vitamin C) are at increased cancer risk, but we haven’t fully understood why. Our research provides part of the explanation, at least for the blood-forming system.”
Essentially, this increased risk is associated, at least in some way, to the way that ascorbate affects an enzyme called Tet2. Some mutations can affect Tet2 in the early formation of the blood cancer. Lower levels of ascorbate can limit Tet2 efficacy in a way that allows for higher leukemia risk.
Dr. Morrison continues, “One of the most common mutations in patients with clonal hematopoiesis is a loss of one copy of Tet2. Our results suggest patients with clonal hematopoiesis and a Tet2 mutation should be particularly careful to get 100 percent of their daily vitamin C requirement. Because these patients only have one good copy of Tet2 left, they need to maximize the residual Tet2 tumor-suppressor activity