Antioxidants & Chemotherapy: the Cruelest Lie Ever Told

It is true that some chemo drugs produce free radicals. But, although some chemo drugs produce free radicals, most of these produce their anticancer effects in ways that do not involve the free radicals (Cancer Treat Rev 1997;23:209-240; Integr Cancer Ther 2004). Not only do these chemo drugs not work by producing free radicals, Kenneth Conklin, M.D., Ph.D. has shown that there is considerable evidence that the free radicals can actually interfere with the drug’s anticancer activity (Nutr Cancer 2000;37(1):1-18; Integr Cancer Ther 2004;3(4):294-300). So, contrary to the theory, antioxidants could actually enhance chemotherapy. Other researchers have also shown, not only that chemo doesn’t kill cancer cells by free radical damage, but that antioxidants could actually increase the way they do kill cancer cells (J Pathol 1999;187:127-37). And, finally, since chemotherapy’s anticancer effects are not, generally, caused by free radical damage, but their body ravaging side effects are, antioxidants, contrary to the theory, could not only make the chemotherapy work better, but prevent the side effects while they do it. So, the conventional prohibition against antioxidants with chemotherapy is simplistic and likely wrong. Even at the theoretical level, antioxidants could prevent the devastating side effects of chemo without inhibiting effectiveness and even make it work better.

The Data Refutes It
Perhaps even more damning than the theoretical objection to banning antioxidants is the available data. All of it. As cancer expert Ralph Moss, Ph.D., reminded us in an interview with The Natural Path newsletter, data trumps theory every time. And, he says, case by case of instances where antioxidants are used in conjunction with chemotherapy, there is no deleterious effect. When the data does not support the theory, the theory has to be abandoned. Real science does not discard the data to preserve the theory. Keder Prasad, Ph.D., who has published over 45 peer reviewed articles on antioxidants and conventional cancer treatment, sums it up by saying, “Experimental data and limited human studies suggest that use of these nutritional approaches may improve oncologic outcomes and decrease toxicity” (Integr Cancer Ther 2004;3(4):310-22).

via Antioxidants & Chemotherapy: the Cruelest Lie Ever Told

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