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Do Vitamins Interfere with Cancer Treatments?
1/27/2009
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Nutritional medicine works in harmony with traditional methods
by Christiane Northrup, M.D.


Did you know that two out of every five Americans will develop some kind of cancer in their lifetimes?

And despite their serious side effects, chemotherapy (chemo) and radiation therapy still play a large role in the treatment of most cancers.

Many doctors are under the impression that it’s not safe to take vitamins while undergoing these treatments—and that vitamins, such as vitamin C, can actually render treatment less effective.

This has never made any sense to me given that supplements help healthy cells stay healthy and also improve overall immunity. So you can imagine how happy I was to find a definitive study on this subject, published in 2007.

Its title cuts right to the chase—“Antioxidants and Other Nutrients Do Not Interfere with Chemotherapy or Radiation Therapy and Can Increase Kill and Increase Survival.”1 (Kill or kill rate is a term meaning “to kill cancer cells.”)

A Note from the Editor
Women's health expert Dr. Christiane Northrup helped us to create her special Healthy Mom & Baby packs, and urged us to create our new Student Brain Food packs.

Now, Dr. Christiane Northrup has kindly allowed us to publish selected articles from the archives of her engaging, informative
Women's Wisdom Circle.

The two-part study—conducted by the Simone Protective Cancer Institute in New Jersey—shows that a single front-page interview (without scientific justification) in a 1997 edition of
The New York Times, a single research paper involving mice, and a press release by its author LL led to the erroneous conclusion that vitamin C interfered with chemo and radiation in humans.

Since most cancer treatments kill cancer cells by generating free radicals, this raised concern—especially when it’s a well known fact that antioxidants such as vitamin C neutralize other types of free radicals. In addition, oncologists observed that folic acid (an antioxidant) interferes with methotrexate (one type of chemo). Suddenly, doctors started to accept the unproved notion that this applied to all antioxidants and that taking any supplements or other nutrients would interfere with treatment.

Physicians, the media, the American Cancer Society, and many Websites took this same position without examining any scientific evidence. And here’s the irony—traditional oncologists commonly give patients two prescription antioxidant drugs—amifostine and dexrazoxane—during treatment for cancer. You can’t have it both ways.

The Numbers Say It All
The research team at Simone Protective Cancer Institute (Charles B. Simone, II, M.D., Nicole Simone, M.D., Victoria Simone, R.N., and Charles Simone, M.D.) reviewed randomized and observational trials that involved 8,521 patients taking antioxidants as single agents (individually) or in combination concomitantly with chemo and radiation therapy.

The nutrients studied were vitamin A, beta-carotene, the B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, selenium, cysteine, and glutathione. After evaluating 280 peer reviewed studies, including 50 human trials dating back to the 1970s through the present, the authors concluded that antioxidants and other nutrients do not interfere with these cancer treatments.

In fact, non-prescription antioxidants and other nutrients actually enhance the ability of these modalities to kill cancer cells. They also help protect healthy tissue and decrease side effects. In 15 human studies, 3,738 patients who took non-prescription antioxidants and other nutrients also had increased chances of survival!

So here’s my advice: If you or a loved one is facing chemo and/or radiation, talk with your doctor about the advisability of continuing to take your supplements. Better yet, show them this article so that they can read the research themselves.

1. Simone, C, et. al., 2007. Antioxidants and other nutrients do not interfere with chemotherapy or radiation therapy and can increase kill and increase survival, Part 1 and 2, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, Jan/Feb: 1(13):22-28, Mar/April 13(2): 40-47.
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© Christiane Northrup, M.D. Excerpted with permission from the Sept/October 2007 issue of
The Dr. Christiane Northrup Newsletter.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., women’s health and wellness pioneer, is the
New York Times best-selling author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and The Wisdom of Menopause. Her fourth book, The Secret Pleasures of Menopause (Hay House, 2008), is now available at www.drnorthrup.com.

For the latest information from Dr. Northrup, including articles like this, visit
her Web site and join Dr. Northrup's exclusive Women's Wisdom Circle.

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