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Ask Dr. Mike: Cancer Vaccine, Vitamin C Dosing & Airport Scanner Worries

Here you'll find the answers to a wealth of health and wellness questions posed by Healthy Talk fans. Listen in because what you know helps ensure healthy choices you can live with. Today on Healthy Talk, you wanted to know:

What is your opinion on optimal dosage of Vitamin C for adults?

The daily recommendation of 50-100 mg of vitamin C a day could prevent diseases and deficiencies like scurvy. However, that's very low. If you want to benefit from vitamin C for brain and heart health, you may want to consider taking more. Dr. Mike's research showed the ideal dose range is 500-2,000 mg.

My husband was diagnosed with melanoma a few months ago. They are going to remove it, but want to follow up with a cancer vaccine. I've done my research and am still unclear. Can you help explain this vaccine?

In the same way a regular vaccine works, a cancer vaccine spikes your immune system. Once doctors have cut out the melanoma, they will give him a vaccine to try to get his immune system to respond to protect against future development and spreading of cancer cells

What is your take on the airport scanner; should frequent flyers be concerned?

Dr. Mike isn't that concerned about them, and he frequently flies. However, you can eat cruciferous vegetables and other sulfur-based compounds to help protect your body if you're worried.

If you have a health question or concern, Dr. Mike encourages you to write him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call in, toll-free, to the LIVE radio show (1.844.305.7800) so he can provide you with support and helpful advice.

RadioMD Presents:Healthy Talk | Original Air Date: May 4, 2015
Host: Michael Smith, MD

RadioMD. It's time to ask Dr. Mike. Do you have a question about your health? Dr. Mike can answer your questions. Just email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call now: 877-711-5211. The lines are open.

DR. MIKE: That's This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . If you like this part of the show like I do, send me more questions. You can be as vague, detailed, lengthy, whatever as you want. It can be a current event, t can be about your own health, whatever, you guys want. I do enjoy this part of the show. So, my first question is from Bart Taylor that name sounds familiar hmm—I think Bart sent me some questions before.

"Hi Dr. Smith! What is your opinion on the optimal dose of Vitamin C in adults?"

And Bart so graciously included in his email a study. As a matter of fact, I've seen this study. I reviewed this study about a year ago it's from Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 2012 the title is Authors Perspective: What is the Optimum Intake of Vitamin C in Humans? And in this study, they concluded about 200 mg is an optimal dose but keep in mind, the daily recommended dose of Vitamin C is about 50-100 mg depending on who you read. Somewhere between 50-100 mg of Vitamin C everyday will prevent scurvy and that, by the way, is exactly what the recommended daily intake or recommended daily allowance (they're basically the same thing) that's what they were designed to do: to come up with a dose of vitamins and minerals that will prevent deficiencies, diseases of deficiencies.

So, that's exactly what the RDI and RDA do and that's way low. If you want to prevent scurvy and that's all you want to do with Vitamin C, great! Follow the RDA. If you want to do more with Vitamin C, if you want to benefit from Vitamin C in terms of heart health, brain health, immune health, anti-cancer properties, you definitely need more than the RDA or the RDI. So, this study coming out of Oregon State University, they looked at different trials. They looked at different sub-culture studies.

They said something really interesting. Bart, in this study, in the abstract, at least, they said, "Here we argue that Phase 3 randomized controlled trials, RCT's, designed principally to test the safety and efficacy of pharmaceutical drugs are ill-suited to assess the health benefits of essential nutrients." Yes, yes, yes.

"And the currently available scientific evidence is sufficient to determine the optimum intake of Vitamin C in humans."

What happens, Bart, is we get a lot of situations where when it comes to dosing, specifically, what I call "ideal dosing" or what you refer to as optimal dosing, the kickback that we get from conventional doctors and research is that there's not enough dosing trials or even randomized controlled trials in vitamins and nutrients to really come up with a good dose range--the low end and the high end. And there is some truth in that that there's not enough randomized controlled trials in vitamins and minerals but the point that these researchers make that I really like is that it may not even be the best way to study vitamins anyway. Randomized controlled trials are looking at one group taking the test material and the other group placebo and because it's a pharmaceutical chemical drug. There's usually a quick effect and you can measure that effect and see a difference quite quickly.

Is that really a fair way to test vitamins and nutrients? And I'm so happy to see the authors in this study recognize that that if you're looking for pharmaceutical type studies to decide what a dose of Vitamin C should be, well, maybe that's the problem. Maybe we're not testing these nutrients, these what are called micronutrients in the right way. So, I like that I just wanted to bring that in there. So, they say 200 mg, Bart. Yeah, I like that but I think it's a little low, still.

My research showed that the dose range, the ideal dose range, for Vitamin C is 500 mg to 2000 mg. The Life Extension Foundation confirmed that and I think the basic multivitamin that the Foundation offers is called the Two-Per-Day doses it at 500 mg. So, at least at the lower end of that optimal range but 200--that's about double the RDA.

I think, again, here's some good research looking at different types of trials coming up with a much higher dose than the RDA for optimal Vitamin C intake. So, to answer your question, what's my opinion? I like this study. I think 200 is a good start. I think it's still too low. I think the optimal range for Vitamin C, Bart, is between 500 and 2000 mg.

Question number two: "My husband was diagnosed with melanoma a few months ago. They are going to remove it but they want to follow up with a cancer vaccine."

Ah, very interesting.

"I've done my research but I am still unclear what this is. Can you help explain it? Thanks, Pam."

Yes. Okay, Pam so, you know, in the same way that a regular vaccine works, like a flu vaccine, a cancer vaccine stimulates the immune response to kind of be primed and ready to fight that particular cancer. So, ultimately, what they're going to do for your husband is they're going to remove the melanoma with what are called clear margins and then they're going to give, and this does make sense to me because I'm pretty sure I'm not up to date on current cancer vaccines, but melanoma there is a cancer melanoma vaccine. There is. So, once they've cut out the melanoma, they then give him this melanoma vaccine and what they're trying to do is they're trying to get his own immune system to respond to this vaccine, produce activated T-cells and B-cells against the melanoma so he can be more protected from future development and future spread.

And so that's what they're doing. That's what it is. A cancer vaccine is basically immunotherapy. It's used in the immune system to fight the cancer so they remove it but knowing that melanomas are aggressive, they do spread. Melanomas are very metastatic. They spread to other organs very readily so they have to remove it, they have to dig it all out. They have to make sure that there's absolutely clear margins but then they do something to protect from that potential spread because you can't get every single cell. There's just no such thing as a perfect removal of a tumor. And so, they've developed these vaccines to stimulate the immune response so that he can be protected down the line.

So, I think it's great. I'm not sure what else I should say about it, Pam, but cancer vaccines and immunotherapy I really think a lot of research has been going on in this field for at least maybe the past 5 or 6 years and we're starting to develop more cancer vaccines.

We're starting to develop more immunotherapy approaches and I think it's awesome because the immune system is so incredible, Pam. Your husband's immune system is one of his best defenses against having a problem with this melanoma down the line. It's just we have to help it a little bit. We have to help his immune system kind of be a little more aggressive when it comes to this melanoma. Be a little more activated, be a little more active about it, a little proactive. That's what the cancer vaccine does. I think that's great. I hope that helped, Pam.

Okay next question. I think I have time for one more.

"What is..."

Okay, listen. This question rings home to me because I'm a frequent traveler myself. I travel all over the country with the Foundation.

"What's your take on the airport scanner? Should frequent flyers be concerned?"

By the way, too, I've noticed the use of the scanners has pretty much gone up significantly. I mean, I remember it used to be half the time I'd go through the more traditional metal detector but now I don't think I've gone through a metal detector at all. In the past couple years, it's been the scanners every time.

I'm not too concerned. I'm a radiologist so I'm not too concerned about the radiation from the scanners. If you are, though, you could just do some supplements. You know, cruciferous vegetables, anti-oxidants, sulfur-based compounds are the best radio protective ones we have like MSM, Methylsulfonylmethane, like 1000 mg of that before you go travelling. That protects from the scanner and from being up high in the air. I mean, maybe just do some supplements. I'm not concerned about them though.

This is Healthy Talk on RadioMD.

I'm Dr. Mike. Stay well.