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NBC: Can vitamin C prevent leukemia?

Here’s another reason to make sure you’re eating plenty of vitamin C: Two new studies out in the past week show that the vitamin may help prevent blood cells from going bad and causing some types of leukemia.

But there’s no evidence that doses beyond the recommended daily requirement of the vitamin help even more. In fact, third study out this week provides a cautionary note: male smokers who took vitamin B supplements actually raised their risk of lung cancer.

Like most recent studies on vitamins, the researchers say the take-home message is to get plenty of nutrients from food, not from supplements.

“What our data say is that it’s important to get 100 percent of your daily vitamin C requirement but there no evidence from our results that there is any added benefit from having megadoses of vitamin C,” said Dr. Sean Morrison, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the University of Texas Southwestern who led one of the studies.

“So this is not one of those things where if a little bit is good, more must be better. Our data just suggest that it’s important to get 100 percent.”

The tests were done on cells and on mice that lacked vitamin C. It only took a little to restore cells to proper function.

Anyway, Morrison added, “When you eat a huge amount of vitamin C, you just pee it out.”

His team found that vitamin C helps cells in the bone marrow grow. That’s good when it’s within normal limits, but if immature cells called stem cells start over-multiplying, the result can be cancer.

“We discovered that stem cells soak up more vitamin C than other blood -forming cells,” said Morrison, whose results were published in the journal Nature.

“Vitamin C, when it’s depleted, is limiting for an important tumor-suppressor enzyme in the blood forming system called TET2,” he added. “So less vitamin C means less TET2 to stop tumors from forming. The vitamin is suppressing the development of leukemia.”

Continue reading at NBC.

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