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Cancer Patients Should Steer Clear of Antioxidants
Date:5/27/2008

Research review suggests they may help cancer cells resist chemo, radiation

TUESDAY, May 27 (HealthDay News) -- A new review of existing research suggests that cancer patients undergoing radiation or chemotherapy avoid supplements with high levels of antioxidants.

Although multivitamins may be all right in some cases, even green tea and vitamin A or E supplements can spell trouble, said review author Dr. Brian Lawenda, clinical director of radiation oncology at Naval Medical Center in San Diego.

The supplements "may decrease the effectiveness of radiation or chemotherapy or even make the toxicities of these treatments worse," Lawenda said. "I would recommend that you do not take these agents during chemo or radiation."

According to Lawenda, many cancer patients take supplements and green tea because they think antioxidants will help their treatment. Antioxidants are generally considered healthy because they help protect cells against threats in the body.

"Everybody wants to take them," said Dr. Alfred Neugut, the head of cancer prevention and control for the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University in New York City. "It comes up almost every day in almost anyone's practice."

But researchers have questioned the conventional wisdom, wondering whether antioxidants might actually harm cancer patients during treatment.

In the new review, reported in the May 27 online edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Lawenda and colleagues examined studies into antioxidants and cancer therapy.

The researchers found that only three studies on radiation and antioxidants relied on randomized controlled trials, which are considered the best way to compare medical treatments.

One of the studies found that antioxidant treatment appeared to raise the likelihood of death.

The antioxidants may protect cancer cells from harm just li
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