Cancer patients are often told by their doctors not to take nutritional supplements while they are undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment. These doctors believe that antioxidants and other nutrients will interfere with radiation and some chemotherapies because those treatments kill cancer cells by generating free radicals that may be neutralized by antioxidants. This is an incorrect belief.
Research since the 1970s consistently shows that chemotherapy and radiation therapy reduce serum levels of antioxidant vitamins and minerals. Nutrients including B vitamins, selenium, vitamin D3, and vitamin K3 all protect normal cells from free-radical injury and the destructive effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. A review of all studies of nutritional supplementation given along with conventional cancer treatments shows that antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals do not interfere with chemotherapy and radiation’s cancer killing effects.
This report, published in the February 2007 issue of Alternative Therapies, summarizes 50 human studies (36 observational and 14 randomized) of the simultaneous use of single or multiple nutrients in combination with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. Many of the studies reported that nutrients produce higher response rates and higher survival rates when administered in combination with conventional therapies. In addition, 47 of the 50 studies indicated that nutrients decrease the side effects of treatment.
The two part review looks at studies on vitamin A, D3, E, K3, B vitamins, beta-carotene, antioxidant combinations, and the glutathione-selenium complex.
The report also reviews 51 cellular and 81 animal studies using nutrients including vitamins A, B6, C, D, E, and K, and selenium given with chemotherapy and radiation. They showed the same effect – “no interference, increased protection of normal tissues, increased tumor killing, and, in some studies, increased animal survival.”
The authors conclude that oncologists are incorrect in maintaining the erroneous belief that patients should avoid nutritional supplements. The supplements discussed have been shown to enhance the killing capabilities of conventional cancer therapies, decrease their side effects, protect normal tissues, and prolong survival.
Simone CB, et al. Antioxidants and other nutrients do not interfere with chemotherapy or radiation therapy and can increase kill and increase survival, part 1. Alternative Therapies, Jan/Feb 2007; 13(1):22-28.
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