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Antioxidants & Chemotherapy

Posts: 130
Joined: Jun 2004

Hi Everybody,

I was hoping to get some information with regard to using antioxidants during conventional treatment.

My father had his first treatment yesterday (5FU, oxaliplatin and avastin). He was told by the nurse not to take too many vitamins because they would have a negative effect on the chemo's ability to kill the cancer cells.

I know that there is a huge controversy between medical oncologists and nutritionists as far as whether antioxidants help or hurt chemo's efficacy. There just seems to be so much information available stating how use of antioxidants protect healthy cells from the chemo and that it actually enhances the chemotherapy's effectiveness in many cases. But then you read articles by oncologists or have your oncologist tell you himself, that using antioxidants during treatment will defeat the purpose of the treatment.

My Dad was taking many supplements that I had researched and gotten for him but now he is afraid to after speaking with the oncology nurses yesterday.

Has anybody used supplements, herbs, etc during conventional treatment or have information regarding this ? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks So Much,

Anonymous user (not verified)

All I know is that the controversy still rages. Bert was told by his oncologist while taking 5fu/leuc/oxil for stage III colon cancer NOT to take any antioxidants. His oncologist is well known for his research in colon cancer and came highly, highly recommended. We considered ourselves lucky to have him (switched from an HMO to a PPO to get him). He admitted that there is controversy over this issue but all his research had shown that while antioxidants are great for healthy cells, in his opinion, they impede the total effectiveness of chemo. Is it true...is it not true, I honestly cannot tell you. With us it boiled down to having faith and trust in our oncologist. Bert has been taking many supplements and vitamins all his life, especially the "so called" cancer fighting ones and in that end and reality, none of them stopped this from happening, including an overall healthy life-style and general good health. His diagnosis came at 51, out of the blue. Today, he is NED and hoping to stay that way, and is back on taking all his supplements and vitamins.

Sorry I can't give you any more concrete info, but at least my nickle's worth of input has been given.

Monika & Bert

Posts: 130
Joined: Jun 2004

Hi Monica,

Thank You for responding. Did Bert take any vitamins at all during treatment ? My father's oncologist said a multivitamin was ok but multivitamins have lots of antioxidants in them too. Also, they say eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables (again, lots of antioxidants). It's so confusing.

How long was Bert on chemo and how often did he get it ? My Dad will be on it for 6 months, every other week, 2 days per week. Then they will reverse his colostomy and take a look at what cancer cells might still be on his omentum. Then another 6 months on chemo. I'm just so afraid that without anything protecting his immune system or healthy cells, a year of chemo will be devastating.

Thank You,

Posts: 130
Joined: Jun 2004

Hi Monica,

alihamilton's picture
Posts: 348
Joined: Jan 2004

My husband too was told not to take any anti oxidants while on chemotherapy...was told that they can actually feed the cancer. He could take a normal multi vitamin tablet but decided against it and just ate a well balanced diet. The only reason my husband lost weight was through complications, not caused by the chemotherapy. As Monika says, you just have to have faith in your oncologist as there are so many conflicting opinions out there. I feel that anyone considering taking anything during treatment should discuss it with the doctor...even herbs can have negative effects. Better safe than sorry!

All the best to you and your dad....I am sure you are reading posts that will encourage you....some people get through chemo with very few bad side effects. I was so worried that my husband would not be able to tolerate it but he did. Our bodies are amazingly resilient.

Posts: 768
Joined: Aug 2004

Hi Deneen.

I honestly don't know much about this controversy other than my oncologist told me the same thing. A regular multi vitamin was fine just no supplemental antioxys. I took a multi vitamin, drank tons of water, and tried to exercise as much as I could. I had 6 weeks of 24/7 5FU along with daily radiation for the same 6 weeks. I faired very well.

I am now on the 6 month cycle of oxyplat, 5FU, and luekovoren. I'm still taking my vitamin and drinking that water. I feel that at least I am giving my body something heathy. ( Of course you should try to eat a well balanced healthy diet)

So, best of luck to you and your dad.

I am (was) stage 3 retal cancer.


Posts: 1560
Joined: May 2006

I am using Beating Cancer with Nutrition guidelines. I have no authority what-so-ever, but I truly believe in the bodies ability to heal itself and I personally want to eat healthy during my treatments. My Onc said eat anything I want. I think it was his way of saying enjoy what you got left, but I choose nutrition. Taht is what we strive for when we are healthy so why not when our bodies need it most. It is a confusing debate however, i think you will always find Docs on either side of the fence.
I have done alot of research and I have chosen a natural healthy diet of high nutrient food to accompany my chemo, I believ it will work, good luck with your decisions and good health


Posts: 120
Joined: Apr 2004

My hubby stage IV took a multi-vitamin, flax seed oil and Q10 and garlic during his chemo. He has other vitiamins that he took also but we gave the list to his onclolgist and were told which ones not to take. I know they told him no extra Vitamin E and Gingo. He also ate a very healthy diet. Lots of fruits, vegetables etc. Shitake mushrooms.
He was treated with Oxi/lecu/5ur for nine treatments - than had liver resection of right lobe. We stopped all supplements before his liver surgery and he just had a multivitamin. He now started chemo for after surgery of Oxi/lecu/5ur/avastin. He is taking a multi and flax oil and Q10. I have read different opinions also. Some say that the chemo kills the vitamins.
It didn't have an effect on his chemo because the two lesions he had in his liver both shrunk.
Maybe make a list of all the vitamins and the doses and they will tell you which ones are ok and the ones to avoid.
Best of luck to your Dad.

nanuk's picture
Posts: 1362
Joined: Dec 2003

I'm sure the blueberry babe -(Emily) will weigh in on this one as soon as she gets connected
to her new server. In the meanwhile, I woud like to mention Dr Quillin's book "Beating Cancer with
nutrition" and the Moss newsletter. they both have opinions pro and con regarding supplements,
but seem to favor supplements in conjunction with chemo..I for one believe that if you are
systemically destroying the immune system with toxic chemotherapy, something is needed
to balance this destruction. Ask your doctor about celebrex too; the so called cox 2 inhibitors
aresupposed to enhance the effects of chemo. Bud

2bhealed's picture
Posts: 2085
Joined: Dec 2001

Hi I'm here! Just got connected and what do I do first?? I email bud and then sign on here to check in with my semi-colons!

Ok, I cannot tell you what I did during chemo since I did not do chemo. But I can tell you my experience with oncologists, doctors, and their limited knowledge of nutrition.

When my hubby went to be "educated" on how to "manage" his type 2 diabetes he was told he could still eat prime rib (he doesn't eat it now anyway), he could eat pie, drink beer, eat candy......

HUH??? We're talking a blood sugar and insulin situation....and he can eat pie????

When I went to an appointment with a local oncologist the clinic was serving their chemo patients donuts after their treatments. DONUTS????? Hmmm, not exactly nutritious...devoid of any kind of food value....and feeds the cancer to boot. Hello?

When my mother took me to a neurologist b'c I was having major cluster migraines she asked if it could be something I was eating. He raised himself up, looked apalled and said, "No, it most certainly was not something I was eating!!"

HA! Guess what? It was EXACTLY because of what I was eating.

I had the personal satisfaction of conversing with same doctor at my grandmother's 100 birthday last year (she is now 101) telling him of my healing from cancer regimen that did not include chemo. His wife was very intrigued too. (she's a nurse)

So read Quillin's book and decide what you think. I happen to support the obvious---that in this day and age our food is devoid of needed nutrients due to depletion in the soil (such as selenium) and an over abundance of pesticides being dumped on our food (not to mention GMO's) and our bodies have all they can do to detoxify on their own. anti-oxidents are cancer killers from what I understand. And they don;'t kill you in the process.

peace, the blueberry babe

Posts: 5
Joined: Aug 2004

Hi Deneen, I was a big anti-oxidant taker prior to surgery but my Oncologist also said no anti-oxidants but approved of my multi-vit that does have some herbs in it.

I'm doing chemo via Xeloda and was also told no Vit C, folic acid other than the RDA which maxs out around 400 and no aspirin. I called Xeloda and they told me Folic acid, aspirin and if I ate anything citrus to wash my mouth out with baking soda/salt and try not to eat spicy / hot / citrus foods/drinks at the meal I'm dosing. All other restrictions (i.e. the antioxidants) seem to be my Oncologist recommendations.

However, I too, have an excellent doctor and I'm paying her to Know about the best way for me to get well so at least for me, I'm following her advice on this one. If in doubt, talk to your doctor more and let them know your concerns. Either way you should feel comfortable about any decision you make.

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