support, system success

Antioxidants May Aid Chemotherapy Patients

on August 11, 2014

Antioxidants May
Aid Chemotherapy Patients
Science Daily — There is no evidence that antioxidant supplements interfere with the therapeutic
effects of chemotherapy agents, according to a recent systematic review of the use of
antioxidants during chemotherapy, available in the May, 2007 issue of the peer-reviewed journa Cancer Treatment Reviews. In fact, they may help increase survival rates, tumor response, and
the patient’s ability to tolerate treatment.
This conclusion has important implications for patients whose oncologists discourage the use of
antioxidant supplements during treatment. Until now, their concern has been that these
supplements may counteract the tumor-shrinking abilities of the chemotherapy.
“This review demonstrates that there is no scientific support for the blanket objection to using
antioxidants during chemotherapy. In addition, it also appears that these supplements may help
mitigate the side effects of chemotherapy,” said Keith I. Block, MD, lead author of the study and
Medical Director of the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment. “This is significant
because it increases the likelihood that patients will be able to complete their treatment.”
Co-author Dr. Robert Newman, Professor of Cancer Medicine at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
said, “This study, along with the evolving understanding of antioxidant-chemotherapy
interactions, suggests that the previously held beliefs about interference do not pertain to clinical
The analysis, titled “Impact of Antioxidant Supplementation on Chemotherapeutic Efficacy: A
Systematic Review of the Evidence from Randomized Controlled Trials,” evaluated 845 articles
from five scientific databases that examined the effects of taking natural antioxidant supplements
concurrent with chemotherapy.
Out of the 845 studies that were analyzed, 19 met all evaluation criteria. These included the use
of randomized trials with a control group, and the reporting of treatment response (tumor
shrinkage) and survival data. The 1,554 patients represented had a variety of cancer types, and
most had advanced or relapsed disease. Some of the antioxidants used in the trials included
glutathione, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, ellagic acid, selenium and beta carotene. Among the findings:
• All of the studies that included survival data showed similar or better survival rates for
the antioxidant group than the control group.
• None of the trials supported the theory that antioxidant supplements diminish the
effectiveness of chemotherapy treatments.
• All but one of the studies that reported treatment response showed similar or better
response in the antioxidant group than in the control group.
• 15 of 17 trials that assessed chemotherapy toxicities, including diarrhea, weight loss,
nerve damage and low blood counts, concluded that the antioxidant group suffered
similar or lower rates of these side effects than the control group.
The authors noted that reducing side effects may help patients avoid having to cut back on their
chemotherapy dosing, interrupt scheduled treatments, or abandon treatment altogether. This in
turn, is likely to favorably impact treatment outcomes. A recent study of a group of colon cancer
patients indicated that those who completed their full prescribed schedules of chemotherapy had
survival rates nearly double those of patients who abandoned their chemotherapy treatment
This new study encourages further exploration of the potential importance of antioxidant
supplements as a means of improving cancer survival.
Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by Block Center for Integrative
Cancer Treatment.

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