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Scurvy in cancer patients

IHN logoBONDY, FRANCE. French doctors provide evidence that scurvy still occurs in developed countries and that it is particularly prevalent among cancer patients. Out of 219 cancer patients six were diagnosed as having scurvy as determined by the fact that they all had a low serum vitamin C concentration and their condition improved by supplementing with vitamin C. One 58-year-old man with cancer and diabetes was found to have a blood level of only 6 micromol/liter of vitamin-C as compared to the normal level of 45-90 micromol/liter. His symptoms included gingivitis (bleeding gums) and hematoma (swelling of tissue with blood). Both symptoms cleared up after one week's supplementation with 2 grams/day of vitamin C. A 50-year-old man with metastatic colon cancer also suffered from gingivitis which disappeared after a few days treatment with 2 grams/day of vitamin C. The doctors point out that weakness, anorexia, and depression are common conditions in both cancer and scurvy and that cancer patients who have gingivitis or bleeding should be checked for scurvy. Scurvy is easy to cure, but failure to do so may lead to further deterioration and even death.
Fain, Olivier, et al. Scurvy in patients with cancer. British Medical Journal, Vol. 316, May 30, 1998, pp. 1661-62

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