Question: I have a 72-year-old friend who was diagnosed with unilateral breast cancer. Her oncologist told her that antioxidants interfere with chemotherapy. I thought that certain antioxidants would help build up her immune system. Isn’t that true?
Dr. Brownstein’s Answer:
I hear the same thing when I recommend supplements to my patients with cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy. I always respond by asking the patient to request their oncologist to provide a citation showing that antioxidants inhibit the function of the particular chemotherapy agent. I have yet to receive an article.
There are many studies which show that antioxidants taken with chemotherapy do not inhibit the effectiveness of it; rather, they enhance the therapy.
Chemotherapy does not cure any cancer — the immune system provides the cure for cancer. The track record for treating the most common forms of cancer — lung, breast, and prostate — with chemotherapy has been poor.
My experience has shown that chemotherapy side effects can be lessened by the targeted use of antioxidant therapies. Which antioxidants am I referring to? Vitamin C is very important to supplement with when undergoing chemotherapy. It is an essential element; we cannot live without it. We do not manufacture vitamin C in our bodies, so it must be obtained from the diet.
Severe vitamin C deficiency can lead to scurvy. I have seen many chemotherapy patients develop a scurvy-like condition. Scurvy can manifest as damaged oral mucosa with bleeding, easy bruising, mental decline, and hair loss.
Other antioxidants helpful to prevent the side effects from chemotherapy include iodine, alpha lipoic acid, and vitamins D and E. Iodine is a potent antioxidant. Alpha lipoic acid can help buffer the liver from a toxic overload. Vitamins D and E can also help minimize adverse effects due to chemotherapy.
One of the most beneficial things to do when receiving chemotherapy is to maintain adequate hydration. Drink adequate amounts of water to minimize toxicity with the organs of the body.
Keep in mind the best results can be achieved by working with a holistically oriented, knowledgeable healthcare provider.
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