Megadoses of vitamins cut in half the recurrence of "superficial" bladder cancer in a small trial from the West Virginia University.
Donald Lamm and colleagues gave 35 bladder cancer patients a daily dose of:
40,000 IU of vitamin A (the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance--USRDA--is 5,000 IU),
100 mg of vitamin B-6 (the USRDA is 2 mg),
2,000 mg of vitamin C (the USRDA is 60 mg),
400 IU of vitamin E (the USRDA is 30 IU), and
90 mg of zinc (the USRDA is 15 mg).
Another 30 patients were given just the USRDA levels of the same vitamins.
After about four years, tumors recurred in 80 percent of the patients taking USRDA-level vitamins, but in only 40 percent of those taking megadoses.
Should bladder cancer patients take the same vitamin preparation? "Only in collaboration with a physician," says Lamm. High levels of vitamin A can cause toxicity, he notes.
The preparation is sold by Mission Pharmacal of San Antonio, Texas, as "Oncovite," a name that Lamm calls "presumptuous." To avoid toxicity, his future studies will use less vitamin A and more beta-carotene.
Of the 52,000 Americans who get superficial bladder cancer each year, most don't die of the disease, says Lamm. But 70 percent of those who have a tumor surgically removed get another tumor within five years.
"And if the tumor invades muscle," he adds, "the whole bladder has to come out."
Journal of Urology 151: 21, 1994.
By Bonnie Liebman