Friday, August 7, 2015

Use Caution With Supplements During Chemotherapy

We are advocates of a healthy, evidence-based CAM regimen. However, when undergoing chemotherapy, it is not advisable to supplement unless expressly permitted by your doctor. Of all the supplements out there, the only one that appears to be safe, and essential for the rest of our lives, is Vitamin D. All other "vitamins" can be detrimental to the effectiveness of your chemotherapy killing cancer cells.

To put it simply, vitamins and supplements are anti-oxidants, chemotherapy is an oxidant. By taking supplementation that fights oxidants- you are fighting the chemo.

One case in particular is fish oil. As this study from Clinical Oncology News reports, it decreases the effectiveness of your treatment. Please read and then go over all the extra supplements you are taking while you are enduring chemotherapy.

Supplements and Cancer Resistance:
A Word of Caution
By Maurie Markman
   There is considerable and understandable interest among cancer patients in a variety of strategies designed to optimize the quality of their lives during and after treatment. Patients and their families also are increasingly proactive in their search for approaches that may favorably affect clinically relevant outcomes. 
   For these reasons, a wide variety of supplement use is common in the cancer patient population. In fact, in my experience, it is now quite common for patients to bring information to their clinic visits that they, or their families, have discovered through their own Internet-based searches so that they can inquire whether the strategy or product highlighted in the material would be relevant in their management.
   The specific goals of supplement use vary but include the desire to prevent or alleviate cancer or treatment-related symptoms, enhance an individual’s nutritional status or general well-being, or favorably affect natural defense mechanisms.
   Unfortunately, there may be legitimate concerns associated with the use of particular supplements in this setting. It is important to note, the major issue here is not the lack of evidence-based data supporting the objective validity of claims that the supplement actually produces the desired favorable effect, but rather the potential that use of the product may cause harm.
   For example, it has been estimated that omega-3 fatty acids, delivered most commonly in the form of fish oil, may be used by as many as 20% of patients with cancer in the United States.1 Preclinical data have suggested that even low concentrations of certain fatty acids can result in resistance to chemotherapeutic agents.2 Furthermore, a recent study in normal volunteers showed that consumption of fish oil at doses that might be taken by patients with cancer resulted in plasma concentrations of these fatty acids that were in the range where preclinical studies had revealed the development of chemoresistance.3
   Thus, although these data do not prove that the intake of fish oil with cytotoxic chemotherapy seriously interferes with the clinical effectiveness of antineoplastic treatment, one must be concerned that this could happen. Of course, it would never be possible to know in patients with cancer whether their use of fish oil had anything to do with the development of chemotherapy resistance in their cancers. However, on the basis of these data, it would be prudent for oncologists to encourage patients who are self-administering fish oil while undergoing chemotherapy to discontinue this practice and resume use of the product—if they so desire—following the completion of the cytotoxic drug program.
1. Gupta D, Lis CG, Birdsall TC, et al. The use of dietary supplements in a community hospital comprehensive cancer center: implications for conventional cancer care. Support Care Cancer. 2005;13(11):912-919, PMID: 15856334.
2. Roodhart JM, Daenen LG, Stigter EC, et al. Mesenchymal stem cells induce resistance to chemotherapy through the release of platinum-induced fatty acids. Cancer Cell. 2011;20(3):370-383, PMID: 21907927. 
3. Daenen LG, Cirkel GA, Houthuijzen JM, et al. Increased plasma levels of chemoresistance-inducing fatty acid 16:4(n-3) after consumption of fish and fish oil. JAMA Oncol. 2015;1(3):350-358, PMID: 26181186.

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