Moss RW.

Cancer Communications, Lemont, Pennsylvania, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Despite recent comprehensive review articles concluding that supplemental antioxidants do not undermine the effectiveness of cytotoxic therapies, the use of antioxidants during cancer treatment remains controversial. Many oncologists take the position that antioxidants by their nature undermine the free radical mechanism of chemotherapy and radiotherapy and should therefore generally be avoided during treatment. For their part, many integrative practitioners believe that antioxidants taken during cancer treatment not only alleviate some of the adverse effects of that treatment but also enhance the efficacy of cancer therapy. Until recently, research attention has focused primarily on the interaction of antioxidants with chemotherapy; relatively little attention has been paid to the interaction of antioxidants with radiotherapy. This article reviews the clinical literature that has addressed whether antioxidants do in fact interfere with radiation therapy. Studies have variously investigated the use of alpha-tocopherol for the amelioration of radiation-induced mucositis; pentoxifylline and vitamin E to correct the adverse effects of radiotherapy; melatonin alongside radiotherapy in the treatment of brain cancer; retinol palmitate as a treatment for radiation-induced proctopathy; a combination of antioxidants (and other naturopathic treatments) and external beam radiation therapy as definitive treatment for prostate cancer; and the use of synthetic antioxidants, amifostine, dexrazoxane, and mesna as radioprotectants. With few exceptions, most of the studies draw positive conclusions about the interaction of antioxidants and radiotherapy. Although further studies are needed, the preponderance of evidence supports a provisional conclusion that dietary antioxidants do not conflict with the use of radiotherapy in the treatment of a wide variety of cancers and may significantly mitigate the adverse effects of that treatment.


Published in  Moss Integr Cancer Ther. 2007; 6: 281-292.

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