Chemotherapy and antioxidants. I thought I would share my experience of conversations with oncologists and oncological pharmacists on the subject of supplements and anti-oxidants in particular.
First, I would say that my medical and oncology team are amazing and anything but close-minded, mostly young, and recently trained. But even so, my questions about natural supplements and anti-oxidants were met with puzzled looks.
So I had the conversation in the context of my chemotherapy regime – here’s my list of supplements I want to keep taking during chemo, is there any reason not to?
I eventually had a really interesting conversation with an oncological pharmacist who was prescribing my anti-nausea drugs, she seemed fascinated if not particularly knowledgeable, but she went off to enquire formally of their central information repository and then gave me a copy of what she was sent. This was related to carboplatin, and also the various anti-nausea drugs I was given as I have been very sick during chemo.
I had given her the following list:
- Vitamins A, B complex, C, D3, E, K2
- Coenzyme Q10
- Mega probiotics
- Bee propolis
- Bicarbonate of Soda
- Medicinal Mushroom extract
- Omega 3
- Milk Thistle
- Cat’s Claw
- Grape Seed Extract
What was most interesting was that the main reply was that anti-oxidants are fine with carboplatin because “it does not work via oxidation.” So anti-oxidants will not interfere with the process. It also said that “some researchers theorize that antioxidants may increase the efficacy of chemotherapy by reducing oxidative stress that may interfere with cancer cell death” – some progress being made, perhaps?
The pharmacist approved all the vitamins and minerals except for A and C because they were contraindicated for one of my anti-nausea drugs. Probiotics were also approved. Omega 3 was accepted as long as I take it in conjunction with Vitamin K and/or chlorella (yes, they had information on chlorella!) because Omega 3 increases the risk of bleeding that is a side effect of carboplatin. The other two are coagulants, so they should cancel each other out.
The rest were not approved, under the general heading of “We just don’t know anything about most ‘herbal’ supplements so we can’t say and we would very much prefer you not to take them.” I have chosen to take bee propolis and medicinal mushrooms throughout, for their specific chemoprotection attributes.
What about you?