Friday, February 22, 2008

Should cancer patients take vitamins?

Regarding the article “Should cancer survivors take supplements?” (14:34 ET, Thu 21 Feb 2008,, I had written a rebuttal to a letter in CA: the Journal of the American Cancer Society, addressing these issues. (1) It is available on the journal’s web page, posted after editorial review. I cite numerous studies in which dietary supplements were used with cancer therapies, with no apparent problems. Additionally, since 40% of cancer patients actually die of malnutrition, please consider that it is wise to try to devise strategies to nourish the patients…they can’t live solely on chemotherapy and radiation, or surgery. Soon after, a review article addressed the same issue, reaching a similar conclusion: it is possible to mix dietary supplements with cancer therapies, in many cases improving results, though the timing is important. “CONCLUSION: None of the trials reported evidence of significant decreases in efficacy from antioxidant supplementation during chemotherapy. Many of the studies indicated that antioxidant supplementation resulted in either increased survival times, increased tumor responses, or both, as well as fewer toxicities than controls; however, lack of adequate statistical power was a consistent limitation.” (2) Science Daily reported that, “There is no evidence that antioxidant supplements interfere with the therapeutic effects of chemotherapy agents, according to a recent systematic review of the use of antioxidants during chemotherapy, available in the May, 2007 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Cancer Treatment Reviews. In fact, they may help increase survival rates, tumor response, and the patient’s ability to tolerate treatment.” (3) REFERENCES: 1. Cancer patients may very well tolerate the use of certain dietary supplements 2. Block KI, et al. Impact of antioxidant supplementation on chemotherapeutic efficacy: a systematic review of the evidence from randomized controlled trials. Cancer Treat Rev. 2007 Aug;33(5):407-18. Epub 2007 Mar 23. Review. PMID: 17367938 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] 3. Antioxidants May Aid Chemotherapy Patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 22, 2008, from Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA

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