Simone CB, Simone NL, Simone V, Simone CB. ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES, jan / Feb 2007, VOL. 13, N O . 1
A single, front-page interview in The New York Times in 1997 (Brody), which was not based on published scientific work, and a single research paper involving mice, along with a press release by its author in 1999 (Gottlieb) led to the erroneous notion that vitamin C interferes with chemotherapy and radiation in humans. This notion soon applied to all antioxidants as physicians, patients, the media, the American Cancer Society (Brown et al, 2001; ACS) and scores of websites took the same position without reviewing the scientific evidence.
Purpose Some in the oncology community contend that patients undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy should not use food supplement antioxidants and other nutrients. Oncologists at an influential oncology institution contended that antioxidants interfere with radiation and some chemotherapies because those modalities kill by generating free radicals that are neutralized by antioxidants, and that folic acid interferes with methotrexate. This is despite the common use of amifostine and dexrazoxane, 2 prescription antioxidants, during chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.
Design To assess all evidence concerning antioxidant and other nutrients used concomitantly with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, the MEDLINE® and CANCERLIT® databases were searched from 1965 to November 2003 using the words vitamins, antioxidants, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Bibliographies of articles were searched. All studies reporting concomitant nutrient use with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy (280 peer-reviewed articles including 62 in vitro and 218 in vivo) were indiscriminately included.
Results Fifty human clinical randomized or observational trials have been conducted, involving 8,521 patients using beta-carotene; vitamins A, C, and E; selenium; cysteine; B vita-mins; vitamin D3; vitamin K3; and glutathione as single agents or in combination.
Conclusions Since the 1970s, 280 peer-reviewed in vitro and in vivo studies, including 50 human studies involving 8,521 patients, 5,081 of whom were given nutrients, have consistently shown that non-prescription antioxidants and other nutrients do not interfere with therapeutic modalities for cancer. Furthermore, they enhance the killing of therapeutic modalities for cancer, decrease their side effects, and protect normal tissue. In 15 human studies, 3,738 patients who took non-prescription antioxidants and other nutrients actually had increased survival.
References: ACS. The American Cancer Society. Selecting which drugs to use for chemotherapy treatments. Available http://www.cancer.org/docroot/ETO/content/ETO_1_4X_ Selecting_Which_Drugs_to_Use_For_Chemotherapy_Treatments.asp? sitearea=ETO. Brody JE. In Vitamin Mania, Millions Take a Gamble on Health. New York Times. October 26, 1997. 1, 20, 21 (quoting Larry Norton, M.D. of Memorial Sloan Kettering, NYC). Brown J, Byers T, Thompson K, Eldridge B, Doyle C, Williams AM. Nutrition during and after cancer treatment: a guide for informed choices by cancer survivors. CA Cancer J Clin. 2001;51(3):153-187. Gottlieb N. Cancer treatment and vitamin C: the debate lingers. JNCI. 1999; 91(24):2073-2075.