Volume 6, Issue 21 May 30, 2013
Why chemotherapy and radiation
patients should take vitamins
You may have heard that cancer patients shouldn't take vitamins. This is the conventional way of thinking in cancer treatment today. But is it the right way to think?

Continued Below...

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Most doctors would say yes. In fact, I recently had a patient who developed breast cancer. Her oncologist not only did not discuss diet, stress, nutritional therapies, or detoxification with her, but he actually cautioned her against taking "any vitamins of any kind." His reasoning was that anything that helps healthy cells must also be helping cancers cells. This thinking not only makes no sense, it also has no scientific basis. Cancer cells are abnormal cells. What helps normal cells is unlikely to help cancer cells.

Plus, if you follow this line of thinking, then you should avoid all nutrition to kill cancer cells. Eating anything could help the cancer cells grow. And, taking this a step further, we would all die of cancer because nutrition feeds cancer — and we all get some level of nutrition every day. We know this isn't true. So the thinking is completely off.

And yet it persists. One recent article by an oncologist issued a warning against the use of antioxidants with either chemotherapy or radiation therapy. The article was typical in that it made only theoretical arguments. The oncologist presented no actual hard clinical data to support her conclusions. Ironically, the author was willing to accept her theoretical reasoning but not the theoretical reasoning of those who disagree.

Worse yet, the author selectively omitted all of the major studies that contradicted her conclusions. For example, the article grossly overstated how antioxidant therapy supposedly interferes with anti-cancer therapy. In fact, the majority of studies published demonstrate the opposite. Clinical studies show that taking high-dose antioxidants during either chemotherapy or radiation therapy usually improves the effects of these treatments. 

If oncologists would just be familiar with the natural medicine literature and trust nature just a little bit, maybe the outcome of cancer would be better. Why not maximize their immune systems at the same time they are receiving such toxic treatment? It surely won't hurt, and it just might help. Why not aggressively detoxify them during and after the treatments? Why not follow them for years, continually reminding them that they are at risk and need to be paying much more attention to their lifestyle habits than the average person? Why not offer them programs of super nutrition? Why not?

One such mainstream group is doing exactly this. Cancer Treatment Centers of America is offering nutrition and herbs, along with the traditional chemo and radiation. A recent study shows that the nutrition is improving their results. They recently released survival scores for various lengths of time after treatment. Listed below is the Cancer Treatment Centers of America versus the conventional survival score for breast cancer:

Years After Treatment Cancer Treatment Centers of America Conventional Survival Score
0.5 years 93% 71%
1 year 88% 60%
1.5 years 76% 51%
2 years 63% 44%
2.5 years 56% 37%
3 years 46% 32%
3.5 years 42% 29%

I don't think Cancer Treatment Centers goes far enough. They put a face of holistic medicine on their approach, but it's not enough. However, these results show you how much nutrition can improve your chances if you have cancer. If a little nutrition treatment helps this much, why not use real nutritional approaches that can really make a difference. I see how well it can work all the time.

If you have cancer, find an integrative physician who has had success treating cancer with vitamins and other holistic treatments. Your life depends on it. And a 29% survival rate after three years from conventional medicine isn't good enough when your life is on the line.

Finding your Real Cures,

Frank Shallenberger, MD


D'Andrea GM. Use of antioxidants during chemotherapy and radiotherapy should be avoided. CA Cancer J Clin. 2005 Sep-Oct;55(5):319-21.

Moss RW. Should patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy be prescribed antioxidants? Integr Cancer Ther. 2006 Mar;5(1):63-82.



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