Volume 1, Issue 4
October 2, 2008
Antioxidants interfere with cancer treatments, right? Wrong!
"Don't take antioxidants. They will interfere with your radiation treatments."
This is a statement my patients frequently hear from their oncologists. They also hear it when they're taking chemo. Both statements are just plain wrong. But don't take my word for it, just look at the reported literature.
Study after study has shown that antioxidants are beneficial for patients receiving chemotherapy. The chemo works better. It has fewer side effects. Patients live longer. And they have a much better quality of life.
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Now, a recent study shows the same is true for radiation therapy.
The researchers presented their findings to the Society of Integrative Oncology's Third International Conference in Boston. This is a non-profit organization of oncologists and other health professionals. All of them are interested in effective alternative and complementary therapies in cancer care. So it is unlikely that your local oncologist knows anything about this data.
The study looked at the effects of giving natural therapies to prostate cancer patients who all took radiation therapy. The antioxidants they used included green tea extract, melatonin, high-potency multivitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin E. The researchers looked at the PSA levels of patients taking the full barrage of supplements. (PSA levels help determine the effectiveness of radiation treatments.) Then they compared these PSA scores to those of patients who did not take any.
What they found was not at all surprising. At least it wasn't to me or to anyone else who routinely prescribes antioxidant therapy to cancer patients. The results may surprise your oncologist, though. The researchers found no difference at all between the PSA levels of patients who took the antioxidants and those who did not.
Does this mean anyone taking chemo or radiation can just take any supplement they want? Unfortunately, no. There are a very few cases where certain supplements might interfere with certain chemotherapy drugs. These interactions are quite rare. But just to be safe, make sure that you talk to a doctor who knows the subject before you take anything supplement. And keep reading these health alerts, as I'll discuss these possible interactions in the future.
Yours for Real Cures,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
Copyright 2008 Soundview Publishing, LLC
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