Review of 19 trials shows that a number of supplements decrease the toxicity of chemotherapy while improving its ability to shrink tumors, and improve survival in advanced cancer patients

March 27, 2007

There is a great deal of debate about the use of supplements with antioxidant activity in conjunction with chemotherapy. Some argue that antioxidants soak up free radicals generated by ?some? chemotherapeutic drugs diminishing treatment efficacy. Others suggest that antioxidants mitigate toxicity allowing for uninterrupted treatment schedules and a reduced need for lowering chemotherapy doses (lowering doses can lead to treatment failure).

The objective of this study was to systematically review the literature to compile results from randomized trials to evaluate the concurrent use of antioxidants with chemotherapy. The scientists found a large body of studies; 845 randomized, controlled clinical trials. They could not perform a meta-analysis because too many different forms of cancer with too many treatment protocols were covered by the studies. To further filter the studies, the researchers decided to include only those that focused on both tumor response as well as a statistical analysis comparing post-treatment survival rates. 19 clinical trials included both of these important parameters (few studies are designed to include both of these outcomes). The antioxidants evaluated were Glutathione, Melatonin, Vitamin A, Antioxidant combinations, Vitamin C, NAC, Vitamin E, and Ellagic Acid. The patients in most of these studies had advanced cancers or cancer recurrence; often worst case scenarios.

The scientists conclude that none of the trails reported evidence of clinically significant decreases in treatment efficacy due to the addition of antioxidant supplementation during chemotherapy. Many of the studies indicated that antioxidant supplementation resulted in either increased survival times, increased ability to shrink the tumor, or both. The patients on antioxidants had fewer cases of toxicity than chemo-only patients. The study review is published in the March 14th, 2007 issue of Cancer Treatment Reviews. The collaborative work was performed by scientists from the University of Illinois at Chicago (the Program for Collaborative Research in the Pharmaceutical Sciences), and from the Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Education in Evanston, Illinois.

Grape Seed Polyphenols may lower the incidence of sun related skin cancers

In this study, researchers from the University of Alabama, Birmingham, exposed hairless mice to ultraviolet radiation (just like sunlight); these mice have little or no ability to protect themselves from ultraviolet radiation and are commonly used in skin research. They were split into two groups; one group received a standard diet while the second group received the standard diet with the addition of Grape Seed Proanthocyanidins; commonly known as OPCs. In the mice receiving Grape Seed Extract supplying OPCs there were 65 fewer cancerous tumors and if they did occur they were up to 78% smaller. The study was just presented at the 233 Annual Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Chicago.