Confused of various stands of using high doses of antioxidants during chemotherapy.
Q: I am confused of various stands of using high doses of antioxidants during chemotherapy. What is your current stand and can you give me links of researches/reports that support the use of anti-oxidants during chemotherapy?
A: Not too many years ago, most doctors believed that antioxidants should not be used because studies have shown that antioxidants protect normal as well as cancer cells against chemotherapeutic agents, rendering conventional therapy less effective.
Careful dissection of the experimental design of such studies shows that cancer cells were given a single low-dose micronutrient just before the start of a series of conventional chemotherapy treatment. During the treatment, cancer cells did show resistance to chemotherapy and radiological therapeutic agents. It is from studies such as this that the doctors assume that all antioxidants, regardless of dosage or frequency will protect cancer cells and should therefore be avoided.
We see two flaws in extrapolating the conclusion based on this type of experimental design to a clinical cancer setting. Firstly, the design assumes that cancer cells react in the same way to low-dose as well as high-dose antioxidant therapy. Secondly, it assumes that only one dose of antioxidant is given. In reality, a series of doses are given during any program.
More recent studies using antioxidants in the appropriate high and repeated doses show that they improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiological therapy. This is contrary to the conclusions drawn from earlier studies. These later studies show that antioxidants when used at high and repeated doses deter the growth of cancer cells without affecting the normal cells, a totally opposite conclusion.
There are not specific article I can point you to. You really need to read each and every study with a fine tooth comb, understand the design and the methodology. From there the answer will be self evident. Medline is a good source of many such articles.
It is very important to also understand that high dose antioxidants do not work for all cancers, and if not properly done, can cause more harm than good. In fact, there has been one documented case of death from high dose vitamin C. Furthermore, antioxidants are only part of a treatment program and not an exclusive modality by any means.