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Can You Take Vitamins While On Chemotherapy

Vitamin C Chemotherapy: Researchers’ Advice For Patients

Can I Use Supplements and Natural Remedies During Chemotherapy?

“I think that patients should probably refrain from taking supplemental vitamin C during chemotherapy,” Heaney says.

“If you take an oral dose even as low as 100 milligrams a day you can get concentrations of vitamin C inside your white blood cells that are close to the concentrations that we used experimentally, and that could be harmful,” he says.

The recommended intake of vitamin C for healthy people is 75 milligrams daily for women and 90 milligrams daily for men.

Although a multivitamin with vitamin C “would probably be OK,” taking larger amounts should be avoided while on chemo, Heaney says.

Given Intravenously Vitamin C Has Anti

And indeed, what they found was that vitamin C can be effective against cancer when given intravenously, as senior author Qi Chen, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutics at the KU Medical Center, explains:

What weve discovered is that, because of its pharmacokinetic differences, intravenous vitamin C, as opposed to oral vitamin C, kills some cancer cells without harming normal tissues.

For their clinical trial, the researchers recruited 27 patients who had just been diagnosed with stage 3 or stage 4 ovarian cancer.

They all underwent conventional chemotherapy with paclitaxel or carboplatin, but some also received high doses of vitamin C intravenously. They were then followed for 5 years.

The researchers found that, compared with the patients who did not receive vitamin C in addition to conventional chemotherapy, the toxic effects of the therapy tended to be less in the patients given vitamin C.

In another experiment, the researchers found vitamin C killed cancer cells in mice with ovarian cancer, but only at concentrations that can be achieved if given intravenously. They noticed no toxic effects or changes due to chemotherapy in the animals livers, kidneys and spleens.

When they looked at what was happening at the molecular level, they found vitamin C in the fluid surrounding tumor cells acts as a pro-oxidant, spurring formation of hydrogen peroxide, which kills cancer cells.

Taking Supplements During Breast Cancer Treatment Increases Risk Of Death And Relapse What Does This Mean For Patients

A new study found that people with breast cancer who take supplements have a poorer survival rate … and a larger chance of relapse than those who don’t.


Last month a study of over 1,000 people with breast cancer found some worrying evidence that certain nutritional supplements could reduce the chance of survival from the disease and increase the chance that the cancer would recur after treatment. The main findings were:

  • Patients who reported taking any antioxidant – vitamins A, C, E and carotenoids and Coenyzme Q10 – were 41 percent more likely to have their breast cancer return when they took the supplements both before and during chemotherapy treatment
  • Patients had a similar, but weaker, increased risk of death when taking those antioxidants
  • Patients taking vitamin B12, iron, and omega-3 fatty acid supplements were at significantly greater risk of breast cancer recurrence and death
  • Patients taking multivitamins showed no signs of poorer or better outcomes after chemotherapy

The research was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and led by scientists at the SWOG cancer research institute.

Patients using any antioxidant before and during chemotherapy had an increased risk of their breast cancer returning and, to a lesser degree, had an increased risk of death. Vitamin B12, iron, and omega-3 fatty acid use was also associated with poorer outcomes, said Christine B. Ambrosone, PhD, of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and leader of the study.

Also Check: What Fruit Has Vitamin C In It

To Learn More About Cam

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health at the National Institutes of Health facilitates research and evaluation of complementary and alternative practices, and provides information about a variety of approaches to health professionals and the public.

  • NCCIH Clearinghouse
  • Post Office Box 7923 Gaithersburg, MD 208987923
  • Telephone: 1-888-644-6226
  • TTY : 1-866-464-3615

Why People With Cancer Use Dietary Supplements

Can you drink alcohol while on chemotherapy?

Dietary supplements are also called nutritional supplements.

You might need to have dietary supplements if you have low levels of particular nutrients. For example, hormone therapy can weaken your bones. So your doctor might give you calcium and vitamin D supplements.

Or, your cancer might stop you from easily absorbing nutrients from your food. So your doctor might prescribe a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement.

Many people with cancer use dietary supplements to help fight their cancer or make them feel better. Most people use supplements alongside their conventional cancer treatments, such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy. But others choose to use them instead of conventional treatments.

Having dietary supplements instead of conventional cancer treatment could be harmful to your health. It might greatly reduce the chance of curing or controlling your cancer.

It is important to talk to a health professional if you’re thinking of taking nutritional supplements. If you are having eating difficulties or trouble maintaining your weight your specialist might refer you to a dietitian. They can given advice on diet and supplements.

Read Also: What Benefits Does Vitamin B12 Have

What Vitamins Work Best For Chemotherapy

People often want to know what vitamins or supplements they should take to help fight their cancer or improve chemotherapy side effects.

In general, vitamins and supplements arent recommended, unless your provider or nutritionist recommends them for you. So far, studies havent shown that they definitely help. In some cases, they may even be harmful. More research needs to be done on their effectiveness and safety.

If youre interested in taking a vitamin or supplement, make sure to speak with your healthcare provider to determine whats the safest option for you.

Questions And Answers About High

  • What is high-dose vitamin C?

    Vitamin C is a nutrient that is found in food, such as oranges, grapefruit, papaya, peppers, and kale, or in dietary supplements. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and helps prevent damage to cells caused by free radicals. It also works with enzymes to play a key role in making collagen. Vitamin C is also called L-ascorbic acid or ascorbate.

  • How is high-dose vitamin C given or taken?

    Vitamin C may be given by IV infusion or taken by mouth. Much higher blood levels are reached when vitamin C is given intravenously. When given by intravenous infusion, vitamin C can reach higher levels in the blood than when it is taken by mouth.

  • Have any laboratory or animal studies been done using high-dose vitamin C?

    In laboratory studies, tumor cells are used to test a substance to find out if it is likely to have any anticancer effects. In animal studies, tests are done to see if a drug, procedure, or treatment is safe and effective. Laboratory and animal studies are done in animals before a substance is tested in people.

    Laboratory and animal studies have tested the effects of high-dose vitamin C. Laboratory studies suggest that high levels of vitamin C may kill cancer cells. See the Laboratory/Animal/Preclinical Studies section of the health professional version of High-Dose Vitamin C for information on laboratory and animal studies done using high-dose vitamin C.

  • Studies of IV vitamin C combined with other drugs

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    Cancer Patients And Supplements

    More than half of US adults take dietary supplements and there are reasons patients undergoing cancer treatment and others may need to take them. Talk about supplement use with your doctor, experts advise.

    There may be individualized situations when a person needs repletion or supplementation, but that would be handled by the healthcare team, said Angela Hummel, MS, RD, CSO, a consulting dietitian with AICR and specialist in oncology nutrition. If side effects from treatment cause a reduced ability to eat and maintain lean body mass, it is important to work with a registered dietitian on techniques and strategies to help.

    As an oncology nutrition practitioner, it is wonderful to see published research in this area because people with cancer are wanting to know what is the best course of action in regards to taking supplements while undergoing treatment, said Hummel. I hope that this is just a glimpse of what is to come.

    Ambrosone and her colleagues are currently conducting a larger study of supplement use among breast cancer patients. Her guidance mirrors that of AICR experts, suggesting cancer patients try to get their needed vitamin and mineral from eating a variety of foods, including vegetables, fruits and whole grains. When you just pluck out specific vitamins and minerals from foods, you are losing all the effects that are probably there when using these nutrients from food, she said.

    AICR Impact

    Antioxidant Use During Chemo Risky

    What to Expect During Chemotherapy

    Breast cancer patients who take the dietary supplements known as antioxidants, as well as iron, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids, during chemotherapy may be at increased risk of disease recurrence and death, according to new study results appearing in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

    Led by researchers at the SWOG Cancer Research Network, a cancer clinical trials network funded by the National Cancer Institute through the National Institutes of Health, the study confirms previous medical guidance advising cautious use of any supplements, other than a multivitamin, for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

    A small but growing body of research in the last 20 years shows that, despite their cancer-fighting reputation, antioxidants such as vitamin E, beta-carotene, and selenium can actually increase risk of some cancers, cause some cancers to return after treatment, or interfere with the effects of chemotherapy. As part of the nations oldest and largest publicly-funded cancer research network, SWOG has conducted some of this work. Its landmark Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial showed that vitamin E supplementation increases the risk of prostate cancer in healthy men.

    In the end, 1,134 patients completed both surveys, and of these, 18 percent used at least one antioxidant daily, while 44 percent took multivitamins. Heres what researchers found:

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    What Chemo Side Effects Does Ginger Help With

    Some research data indicate, that because this aromatic rhizome accumulates in the gastrointestinal tract, ginger effectively prevents nausea, is anti-inflammatory, and possibly helps prevent colon cancer.

    According to the following PubMed article, a daily supplement of ginger extract, started 3 days prior to chemotherapy, has been shown to significantly alleviate oxidative stress levels in patients who received moderate-to-high emetogenic potential chemotherapy compared to placebo.

    It is also evident, in-vitro, that ginger has strong antioxidant properties, and aqueous or ethanol supplements taken during chemotherapy have a vital scavenging radical of superoxides and peroxidation of lipids.

    Withania Supplements May Help Reduce Weight Loss As A Result Of Cancer Treatment

    What is withania?

    Withania is a perennial with small, yellow and green flowers, and an orange berry. The root is used medicinally but the berries, leaves and bark are sometimes used too. It contains steroidal lactones, flavonoids, alkaloids, phytosterols and iron.

    What does withania do?

    Withania is thought to be capable of modulating the bodys response to stress-in the brain, it appears to stimulate the GABAergic system, the system involved in calming and quieting brain activity. By acting on the adrenal glands, it may also reduce blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is raised in chronic stress and can cause adverse effects.

    Experts think withania may help support people with cancer. For instance, it may reduce the weight loss that commonly occurs with this condition. More importantly, it may help reduce the toxic effects of chemotherapy on the bone marrow, which is where red and white blood cells are made.

    How to take withania

    • Dried root: take 3 to 6 grams a day in capsule form or as a tea.
    • Fluid extract : take 5 to 13 millilitres a day.
    • Your health-care practitioner can prescribe a specific dose, possibly coupled with other appropriate herbs, to suit your specific needs.
    • If you are having chemotherapy or radiotherapy or taking immune-suppressing drugs, consult your specialist before taking withania.

    Read Also: Is Vitamin C Good For Acne

    More Information About Vitamins And Minerals

    MedlinePlus in the USA has information about many of the vitamins and minerals used as dietary supplements. It gives information about their possible side effects and interactions, and the research evidence on their use in cancer and other illnesses.

    • Vitamin D supplements and prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease

      J.E.Manson and others

      New England Journal of Medicine, 2019. 380 33-34

    • The Vitamin epidemic: what is the evidence for harm or value?

      M. Kennedy

    Questions To Ask Your Health Care Provider About Cam

    Supplements and cancer: What can I take?

    When considering complementary and alternative therapies, patients should ask their health care provider the following questions:

    • What side effects can be expected?
    • What are the risks related to this therapy?
    • What benefits can be expected from this therapy?
    • Do the known benefits outweigh the risks?
    • Will the therapy affect conventional treatment?
    • Is this therapy part of a clinical trial?
    • If so, who is the sponsor of the trial?
    • Will the therapy be covered by health insurance?

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    Ways To Increase Wbcs During Chemotherapy

    Ensuring youre eating a healthy diet with enough protein, vitamin B12, and folate is essential, so talk to your doctor or another medical professional on your care team about referring you to a dietitian.

    The dietitian can discuss your diet and how to improve it to boost your immunity by eating enough calories, protein, and vitamin-rich foods. Still, theres no one thing you can eat or avoid eating to improve your white blood cell counts.

    You should not start a supplement or vitamin without checking with your doctor or dietitian. Some vitamins and minerals can interfere with your treatment and make chemotherapy less effective.

    Who May Need A Multi

    The following situations may make it difficult for you to meet your nutritional needs without adding vitamin and mineral supplements to your diet.

    • If you have had loss of appetite, taste, or smell, or have had surgery to the head and neck area resulting in difficulty with swallowing.
    • If you’re female, postmenopausal, and not on hormone replacement therapy or tamoxifen, you may need to supplement with calcium, vitamin D, and/or vitamin K2 to protect against osteoporosis.
    • If you have cancer of the digestive tract, such as intestinal, pancreatic, liver, and gallbladder cancer, you may have impaired digestion and absorption of nutrients.
    • If you eat fewer than 1,200 calories per day or your diet is limited because of food intolerances.
    • If you follow a special diet that eliminates certain food groups, or if you eat a vegetarian diet that omits all animal products, you may need additional vitamin B12, calcium, and/or zinc.
    • If you have been told that you have poor wound healing due to nutrient deficiencies, additional vitamin C, zinc, and/or protein may be helpful.
    • If you are over age 50, your nutritional requirements for certain nutrients increase . Thus, you may need supplementation, particularly if you have loss of appetite and eliminate certain food groups.

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    How Vitamin C May Help Cancer Treatments Work Better

    Cancer treatments are often hard on patients, but the side effects and challenges are necessary to control or even destroy tumor cells.

    Now researchers say there may be a way to make those treatments work even better. In a study published in Cancer Cell, scientists say that giving people high doses of vitamin C during treatment may weaken cancer cells and make them more vulnerable to the effects of chemotherapy and radiation.

    In the study, which was designed to determine if vitamin C in high doses was safe, 11 people with an aggressive brain cancer called glioblastoma were treated with vitamin C intravenously three times a week for nearly two months. The dose was increased gradually while the people underwent radiation therapy, to ensure that enough vitamin C remained in the blood. The people in the trial reported no additional side effects or adverse symptoms associated with the vitamin, only those associated with normal chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

    The study was not structured to look at how effective the vitamin C was. But the researchers note that so far, half of the people in the study were alive nearly two years later. The average survival for the disease is generally around a year.

    Its important to note that the doses used in these studies arent achievable with supplements or massive amounts of orange juice. Its orders of magnitude greater than the dose in a multivitamin, about 800 to 1,000 fold, says Allen.

    Vitamin Supplements May Affect Chemotherapy

    Chemotherapy: What can I do if I start having diarrhea? | Norton Cancer Institute

    Multivitamins, Vitamin E May Reduce Immune Side Effect

    Sept. 24, 2004 — Vitamins and minerals may appear to be safe because they are sold as over-the-counter remedies. But a new study shows that vitamin supplements may affect chemotherapy — for better or worse.

    Patients may think supplements are safe because they’re “natural” products, but there is growing evidence that they can intensify or weaken the effects of chemotherapy drugs, say the researchers.

    With many supplements on the market, scientists don’t yet know how each affects chemotherapy.

    But the pool of knowledge has now expanded with a new study from the University of Vermont in Burlington.

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    How To Detoxify From Chemotherapy And Repair The Body

    January 12, 2015 by Michael EdwardsLast updated on: January 20, 2019

    This is not the easiest article for me to write, as I have seen many people cure cancer naturally. On the other hand, being diagnosed with cancer is so incredibly scary for someone and their family, and choices are made in haste.

    Many times Ive seen someone who believed in natural medicine, someone who swore they would never go the chemo route, get talked into chemotherapy by what I hope are well-meaning physicians and a terrified family. If you are considering chemotherapy while reading this, I urge you to, first and foremost, find out how much time you have before the situation is dire. In most cases, the person diagnosed with cancer has much more time to make a decision than the oncologist led him or her to believe. In fact, with many types of cancer, the average five to seven-year survival rate is decreased once chemotherapy is administered.

    If you have undergone chemotherapy, the bad news is that chemotherapy is often more dangerous than the cancer itself. Were not typically told this because of the immense profits involved. The good news is if you are very strict with your diet and you are not suffering from a host of other ailments that were brought on before the cancer diagnosis, you can detoxify the body and reverse most of the damage caused from the drugs.

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