Vitamins and Herbal Supplements Should Be Avoided During Chemo and Radiation Therapy

kcinpdx Member Posts: 13
I have gastro-esophageal junction cancer, T3N1, 11 months in, one 9 week EOX chemotherapy, and a second 6 week chemo/radiation therapy completed. My follow-up endoscopy biopsy from Feb 24, 2011 came back with "no evidence of malignacy." My follow-up PET scan is at the end of March and my fingers are crossed. I attempted to post replies to a couple friends on this subject but my comments didn't post correctly, so here is what I wanted to share:

My Medical Oncologist from OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, my Surgical Oncologist, my Radiation Oncologist, and my Gastroenterologist ALL told me not to take any vitamin supplements, antioxidants or herbal supplements before, during or immediately after chemotherapy or radiation treatment. Why? I asked - the answer was that the antioxidant properties which help protect healthy cells from free radicals that can damage them, also will protect the cancer cells from the chemo and radiation that are trying to destroy them. The treatment goal is to "oxidize" the cancer cells to break them down and kill them. Many herbal supplements have been shown to directly interfere with both chemo and radiation and reduce its effectiveness, and some negative interactions may severely harm you.

You will get the nutrients you need from your normal food during therapy and your doctors want to you to get the greatest effects from the treatment side effects that you have to endure. Save the vitamins and herbs for your recovery after treatment is over. As always, consult your oncology doctor or nursing staff regarding the use of vitamins and other supplements.

Here is a related link from the NCI:

My best to you, stay positive! Keith