#10 – Antioxidants

For those of you knowledgeable about cancer, you will wonder why I have included this topic.  I continue to grow in awareness and understanding of this disease but still have some preconceived notions that I need to shake.  One of them surrounds the use of supplements, such as antioxidants, to stay healthy and support cells.  When my husband was diagnosed many people came out of the woodwork with ideas on how to beat or at least slow down his cancer.  One idea was the use of antioxidants.  All I have ever heard about antioxidants has been positive.  However, when I spoke with medical professionals they suggested deferring the use of antioxidants until after the chemo treatments had ended.

Apparently, at the present time, there is not enough solid data to show benefit from using antioxidants during treatment, and in fact there have been studies that suggest that taking antioxidants could interfere in some different types of chemo treatments.  The general consensus among those I spoke with is that the time to take antioxidants is before you develop cancer, as a preventive measure.  Perhaps the other view is that once a state of health is achieved after treatment, then the antioxidants should be a routine part of one’s health routine.  However, as the excerpt below states, ultimately the decision as to whether or not to take antioxidants during treatment rests with the patient, but the medical team should be informed.

“Several randomized controlled trials, some including only small numbers of patients, have investigated whether taking antioxidant supplements during cancer treatment alters the effectiveness or reduces the toxicity of specific therapies. Although these trials had mixed results, some found that people who took antioxidant supplements during cancer therapy had worse outcomes, especially if they were smokers.  … Additional large randomized controlled trials are needed to provide clear scientific evidence about the potential benefits or harms of taking antioxidant supplements during cancer treatment. Until more is known about the effects of antioxidant supplements in cancer patients, these supplements should be used with caution. Cancer patients should inform their doctors about their use of any dietary supplement.” (Source:  http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/prevention/antioxidants  retrieved Sept 8, 2014.)

 “Results of recent studies do not support antioxidant supplements, but health authorities continue to find benefits of a high intake of fruits and vegetables. There is concern about possible interactions between high doses of some antioxidant supplements and chemotherapy drugs that work by using free radicals to kill cancerous cells.” (Source:  http://www.mydr.com.au/nutrition-weight/antioxidants-their-role-in-health  retrieved Sept 8, 2014.)