CORVALLIS, Ore. - The Linus Pauling Institute will host its biennial "Diet and Optimum Health" conference Sept. 13-16 at Oregon State University, attracting an international audience of experts in nutrition, preventive medicine and oncology.
The conference will also honor recently retired Linus Pauling Institute director Balz Frei and welcome new director Richard van Breemen.
The ninth edition of the event takes place 100 years after Linus Pauling began his OSU studies as an undergraduate. It also coincides with the ramp-up of the university's 150th anniversary celebration and the 20th anniversary of the Linus Pauling Institute's move to Oregon State from Palo Alto, Calif.
The conference will include a day-long symposium on vitamin C with a focus on the micronutrient's capabilities in treating cancer and sepsis, as well as sessions on dietary components and the microbiome; lipid metabolism; vitamin E; bioactives; and diet, neuropathy and dementia.
"Linus Pauling wanted to cure the common cold with vitamin C, and there's some indication that by taking vitamin C you can shorten the duration of a cold - this is a natural progression of that idea to preventing bacteria from killing you," said conference chair Maret Traber, principal investigator and Ava Helen Pauling Professor at the Linus Pauling Institute. "We really are changing people's lives."
In addition to the professional conference, the Linus Pauling Institute will host a free public session from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, at the CH2M Hill Alumni Center on the OSU campus. It will feature Emily Ho of the Linus Pauling Institute, who will talk about diet and cancer prevention, and Jeanne Drisko of the University of Kansas Medical Center, who will discuss treating cancer with intravenous vitamin C.
"Linus Pauling and his colleagues tried to show people in the 1970s that intravenous vitamin C was beneficial in treating cancer, and they forced the National Institutes of Health to do several clinical trials," said Drisko, director of KU Integrative Medicine and the Riordan Endowed Professor of Orthomolecular Medicine.
"The Mayo Clinic ran the trials and said vitamin C showed no benefit in double-blind, placebo-controlled testing. It wasn't until years later that it was found out that Linus Pauling and his colleagues had been giving it intravenously and the Mayo Clinic used only oral vitamin C, and that's a huge difference. When it's given in a vein, it makes hydrogen peroxide around the cancer cells, and the hydrogen peroxide kills them."
Anitra Carr of New Zealand's University of Otago, chair of the professional sessions on the mechanisms of vitamin C in cancer, said "vitamin C administration appears to have a clear impact on patient quality of life, particularly in those receiving chemotherapy."
It's not yet clear, though, which types of cancer respond best to intravenous vitamin C.
"There is also considerable debate around the potential anti-cancer mechanisms by which vitamin C works," she said. "Future preclinical and clinical studies will help to elucidate these questions through clarifying the mechanisms by which vitamin C works and also if these vary depending on the type of cancer. This will facilitate personalized medicine, whereby the right treatment can be targeted to the right patient."
Carr is also one of the presenters during the session on intravenous vitamin C therapy for sepsis, as is Berry Fowler of Virginia Commonwealth University.
"Over the past 30 years, over $2 billion has been spent by the National Institutes of Health and the pharmaceutical industry on over 15,000 patients with sepsis. No treatment has proven effective that doesn't have side effects," said Fowler, professor of medicine in the Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Medicine Division and director of the VCU Johnson Center for Critical Care and Pulmonary Research.
"Trials have been predominantly performed with proteins like antibodies and inflammatory protein inhibitors. These protein treatments don't get transported into the cell where they are needed. Vitamin C is a micronutrient - it's effectively transported into every cell in the body."
When vitamin C is infused intravenously, Fowler said, it's actively moved from the bloodstream into the cells where the injury and damage are happening.
"When it's there it acts as an antioxidant and, importantly, it decreases the inflammatory process that leads to injury," he said. "This micronutrient theory may be the secret as to how vitamin C works so effectively. There's finally a therapy that can be transported into places where it needs to be to be effective as opposed to remaining free in the plasma. That's what differentiates vitamin C - it's effectiveness is because the body moves it across tissue planes."
Carr said critically ill patients with sepsis and septic shock have very low levels of vitamin C and that several recent clinical studies have shown that administration of vitamin C to these patients can significantly decrease organ failure and also decrease death rates by up to 80 percent.
"Sepsis and septic shock are the leading causes of death in critically ill patients and the incidence of severe sepsis continues to rise around the world," she said. "If these results can be reproduced in other studies, this will be the biggest breakthrough in care for these patients since antibiotics."