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Why not antioxidant rich foods during chemo treatment??

Posts: 133
Joined: May 2008

Hi, Valerie again. Recently diagnosed with stage III colon cancer. Had surgery and about to begin chemo. I was told by an encologist nurse not to have too much food containing antioxidants during chemo because it would work against treatment. Things such as berries, broccoli, etc. Has anyone else been told this?

Posts: 529
Joined: Nov 2007

No, I wasn't told that. However, broccoli, berries etc. are hard to digest and you might have difficulty with them. They have a lot of fiber and are hard to break down. There are also some things that interact badly with chemo - I was told to take a multi-vitamin and leave out supplements unless I cleared them first. Don't forget chemo is a short period of time (relatively) one challenge for many people is to eat as your appetiite may not be at its best. Just eating - your body needs fuel - and getting enough fluid is a top priority. To be honest, I could no more have eaten broccoli and berries during chemo than I could have thought about flying. You may find that things that are easy to digest will be appealing. Everyone is different, but you might want to think about how you want to eat after you are done with treatment.


KathiM's picture
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

This is a subject that varies by oncologist. Some, like your nurse, believe that antioxidants will lessen the effect of the chemo by keeping cancer cells 'stronger'. Others believe that they have little effect on the cancer cells dying, but DO have positive effects on cells that are 'collateral damage' (dying from chemo without being cancer). I was lucky enough to have one that believed one way during my first cancer, the other way during my second...

I drank a bunch of green tea during my first treatments...I don't know what else, but I didn't have any residual neuropathy...

Ask your oncologist...

Hugs, Kathi

katienavs's picture
Posts: 88
Joined: Nov 2006

Hi Valerie,
I was told the same thing. My oncologist told me that antioxidants strengthen cells and prevent their oxidation and the point of chemotherapy is obviously to kill the cells. So basically, like you said, the antioxidants could work against the treatment. I followed her advice and steared clear of them during the thirteen rounds of folfox I had.
I am not saying this had anything to do with the antioxidants but I have been NED from stage iv for over a year :)

Brigid64's picture
Posts: 5
Joined: Sep 2007

Hi Valerie. I had also been told not to eat foods high in antioxidants or take supplements during chemo. It is because you do not want to promote cell growth if you have or had cancer. Also you should avoid massages that stimulate blood flow because the massage aids circulation and improved blood flow also stimulates cell growth. Good luck with your treatment. I too had Stage III cc in December 2005, surgery and treatment in 2006. I am heading towards 3 years cancer free. Hang in there. Chatting with other cancer survivors and sharing information really does help. Jennifer. Australia

scouty's picture
Posts: 1976
Joined: Apr 2004

Hi Valerie,

My oncologist (at one of the comprehensive cancer centers) had no problem with the slew of supplements I took while on 8 months of chemo. He said there was no proof that antioxidants had any impact on the chemo drugs I was going to be getting. There were days it was hard to swallow the capsules but only a few. But they were easier to swallow then some foods!!!! Chemo wrecked my taste buds and bland became the norm. I am currently 3 1/2 years NED (stage IV rectal cancer).

I would ask your oncologist, I was told some very misleading things by a few nurses but knew to run it by my docs before taking it to heart.

Lisa P.

Posts: 529
Joined: Nov 2007

Well, even though I didn't ask the question, thank you everyone. I certainly learned some things. Thanks.

Posts: 84
Joined: Dec 2007

I was told by my onc not to take certain supplements, eg selenium, zinc,Vit A, C and E, while on chemo for the same reason, but I was told to eat the good food sources that would contribute other good phytonutrients. But that was from a dietician. I don't believe the stuff about antioxidants interfering. I was compliant to some extent when on chemo, but when not in active treatment I take everything I think will help. I've been on a break and will see my onc the 20th. I want to discuss the supplements issue with her and let her know I've "cheated" somewhat. I just can't see denying my body vitamins. etc when they are necessay to keep the rest of my body healthy. I am not just made up of cancer cells. Most of my cells are good ones that I'd like to take care of.

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