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Effects of Chemotherapy Combined with Micronutrients

Effect of Micronutrients on Cancer Patients to Be Studied

October 26, 2001 -- A new project will look at the effect of micronutrients on cancer patients who are undergoing standard chemotherapy. Patients will take a combination of high-potency multivitamins, calcium ascorbate (vitamin C), mixed natural carotenoids and vitamin E. A survey will determine the patients' survival rates, quality of life, and responsiveness to chemotherapy. The goal is to show clearly whether microsupplementation during chemotherapy will prolong life, shorten life, or result in no change.

Initial Pilot Program To Determine Patient Tolerance to Micronutrients

An initial pilot program will check patients' tolerance to the micronutrient combination, their compliance with the program, and if they have any oxidative damage. Their levels of vitamins A, C, and E and beta carotene will be measured before and during supplementation. If the pilot program shows that the program is tolerable and patient compliance is good, the next step is a large randomized study using the micronutrient combination and placebos.

Studies of Antioxidant/Chemotherapy Interaction Considered Inadequate

Previous studies of the interaction of antioxidants in micronutrients with standard chemotherapy agents are scarce or inadequate, according to the researchers, yet various reports show that 23-72% of cancer patients use alternative therapies or vitamins. Support for the use of vitamin supplements has been incorporated into the treatment approach of at least one major cancer program despite the lack of supporting data. Some studies present theoretical mechanisms by which antioxidants may interact adversely with cancer chemotherapy. Other reports conclude, however, that antioxidant-chemotherapy interactions increase chemotherapy efficacy.

The full text of this article (Micronutrient Supplementation for Patients With Metastatic Cancer, James J. Stark et al., Nutrition and Cancer 38(2):296-298, 2000) may be found in Medscape (free, registration required). Go to the article page, click on Cancel, and follow the registration instructions.

The authors are associated with the Cancer Research Foundation, the American Health Foundation, and the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

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