Anti-oxidants, Chemotherapy and Radiation
If you are taking or considering taking nutritional or herbal supplements, your oncologist or radiation oncologist might insist that you don’t. The rational for avoiding supplemental nutrients, in particular, anti-oxidant nutrients, is that they will interfere with and reduce the effectiveness chemotherapy and radiation.
This concern is largely based on the belief that chemotherapy and radiation work by generating free radicals. Since anti-oxidants help neutralize free radicals, we might have a potential conflict. It’s important to realize that only some chemotherapeutic agents work by this mechanism. More importantly, the vast majority of research on the topic, do not support this idea.
If we look at literally hundreds of cell culture, animal and human studies on this subject, we find the the exact opposite is true. Examining the entirety of mainstream medical and scientific literature, there is an overwhelming and consistent finding; anti-oxidants significantly increase the effectiveness and reduce the toxicity of chemotherapy and radiation.
However, there are exceptions. As such it is essential to seek the advice of an expert in integrative oncology before utilizing supplements while undergoing conventional treatment for cancer.
To date 4 systemic reviews of the medical literature have been published on the impact of antioxidants on chemotherapy and radiation. All of these reviews have come to the same conclusion.
From Simone et al.:
- 280 peer reviewed in vitro & in vivo studies including 50 human studies with ~8,500 patients. These studies have consistently shown antioxidants do not interfere with radiation and chemotherapy.
- Non-prescription antioxidants reduce side effects of chemo & radiation and enhance their effectiveness.
- In 15 human studies (~3,700 patients) antioxidants in combination with conventional therapies increased survival.
Antioxidants in Cancer Therapy; Their Actions and Interactions With Oncologic Therapies
Antioxidants and other nutrients do not interfere with chemotherapy or radiation therapy and can increase kill and increase survival, Part 1
Antioxidants and other nutrients do not interfere with chemotherapy or radiation therapy and can increase kill and increase survival, Part 2
Impact of antioxidant supplementation of chemotherapeutic efficacy: A systemic review of the evidence from randomized controlled trials