Is it a good idea to take antioxidant vitamins and nutrients if you have cancer? The opinions are mixed. On the one hand, studies show that patients who have cancer who take antioxidant supplements feel better than those who don't. But other studies show that taking them might actually cause the cancer to grow faster, particularly in lung cancer.
Now a brand new study on melanoma has found that antioxidants can double the rate of melanoma spread in mice. The results reinforce previous findings that taking antioxidant supplements can hasten the progression of cancer.
In January 2014, researchers at the University of Gothenburg showed that antioxidants hastened and aggravated the progression of lung cancer. Mice that consumed antioxidants not only developed additional tumors, the tumors they developed were more aggressive.
Later on, experiments on human lung cancer cells confirmed the rodent experiments. Now, in the study I mentioned above, researchers gave mice with melanoma the antioxidant n-acetylcysteine (NAC). They discovered that the NAC supplements basically doubled the rate at which the cancers metastasized. And if that's not bad enough, it gets worse. The researchers did the same kind of experiments on cell cultures from patients with malignant melanoma and got the same results. The antioxidant sped up the growth of the cancer cells. That all sounds pretty bad. But as usual, there's much more to this story.
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The researchers discovered that the NAC supplements increased the levels of reduced glutathione and decreased the levels of oxidized glutathione in both the melanoma cells and in the metastases. Why is this so important? Two reasons. First, it shows us why simply taking antioxidants when you have cancer, even though it means you will feel better, is a bad idea. That's because reduced glutathione protects cancer cells from your body's immune system. Sure it helps your healthy cells too, but the cost is too high.
So is there a way to get around that problem? Is there a way to get the advantages of antioxidant supplements for your healthy cells while depriving cancer cells? Fortunately, there is. It's called ozone therapy.
If you take NAC along with ozone therapy, guess what happens? The opposite of just taking NAC by itself. The levels of reduced glutathione are decreased and the levels of oxidized glutathione are increased. This is a good situation for healthy cells because they can adapt and will eventually produce the enzymes that are needed to keep the oxidized glutathione levels in check. But cancer cells can't operate that way. They can't produce the enzymes. So they're stuck. No reduced glutathione to help them grow faster, and increased levels of oxidized glutathione to further suppress their growth. So what's the take home message here?
If you're fighting cancer, you can slow the growth of the cancer if you combine taking antioxidant therapies with ozone therapy. That way you can avoid any of the possible disadvantages of just taking the antioxidant supplements. But don't do this alone. Fighting cancer is serious business. You will need a doctor familiar with ozone therapy. You can find one at the website for the American Academy of Ozonotherapy (www.aaot.us).
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
Le Gal K, Ibrahim MX, et al. Antioxidants can increase melanoma metastasis in mice. Sci Transl Med. 2015 Oct 7;7(308).
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