Q: I have been taking antioxidant supplements, but my oncologist doesn’t want me to take them because antioxidants can decrease the effectiveness of chemo and radiation. Do you agree?
A: Frankly, the overwhelming body of evidence on antioxidants and cancer concludes that they are helpful, not detrimental.
In a thorough literature review entitled “Should Cancer Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy and Radiation Take Antioxidants?” Ralph Moss, PhD, summarizes the weight of scientific evidence in favor of antioxidants. He also points out that there are several radio-protective and chemo-protective agents that are widely used in conventional oncology whose principle mode of action is through antioxidation! Moss concludes: “A blanket rejection of concurrent use of antioxidants…serves neither the scientific community nor the burgeoning population of cancer patients.”
One excellent article on antioxidant use in cancer therapy was written by doctors from the Tahoma Clinic in Kent, Washington, and appeared in the Alternative Medicine Review in 1999. Tahoma Clinic has a long history of providing effective treatments based on natural therapies, both for patients undergoing conventional treatments and for conditions unresponsive to conventional treatment. As the authors explain:
“There is a concern that antioxidants might reduce oxidizing free radicals created by radiotherapy and some forms of chemotherapy, and thereby decrease the effectiveness of the therapy…. Evidence reviewed here demonstrates [that]antioxidants alone produce beneficial effects in various cancers, and both animal and human studies demonstrated no reduction in efficacy of chemotherapy or radiation when given with antioxidants. In fact, considerable data exists showing increased effectiveness of many cancer therapeutic agents, as well as a decrease in adverse effects, when given concurrently with antioxidants.” (www.PubMed.gov)
 Moss RW. Should Patients Undergoing Radiation and Chemotherapy Take Antioxidants? Cancer Communications, 2005:29.
 Lamson and Brignall. .Antioxidants in Cancer Therapy: Their Actions and Interactions with Oncologic Therapies, Alternative Medicine Review
(1999 Oct 4(5): 304-29)