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Esophageal Cancer- Antioxidants, Chemo

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Hi David – My husband was just diagnosed with Stage IV Esophageal Cancer and had been taking diabetes meds prior to diagnosis. He is starting on FOLFOX Monday.

I came across the journal studies below after seeing information about diabetic drugs containing antioxidants accelerating cancer in patients who had not yet been diagnosed with cancer. My husband was just diagnosed with Stage IV Esophageal Cancer and had been taking diabetes meds prior to diagnosis. He is starting on FOLFOX Monday. Please let me know your thoughts.

I’m curious about this statement below because I have found a lot of research that supports the idea that antioxidants may help in preventing cancer, but once the cancer is established in the body it actually fuels it, making it spread faster.

“supplement with antioxidant therapies that studies have shown enhance the efficacy of 5FU while reducing the toxicity”

1. Herbal Interaction With Chemotherapeutic Drugs—A Focus on Clinically Significant Findings   December 3, 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6901834/

2. Avoiding Antioxidant-Drug Interactions During Cancer Treatment
By Dan Labriola, ND, and Robert B. Livingston, MD   July 25, 2014

3. Antioxidants Accelerate the Growth and Invasiveness of Tumors in Mice
National Cancer Institute – National Institute of Health (NIH) November 12, 2015, by NCI Staff

4. Antioxidants May Make Cancer Worse By Melinda Wenner Moyer October 7, 2015

Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks. RM

Hi RM-

I am sorry to read of your husband’s metastatic esophageal cancer diagnosis.
The issue you are asking about, antioxidants before, during and/or after conventional chemotherapy and radiation is one of the most heatedly debated topics in all oncology. I have read many articles and studies on this issue myself both pro and con.
My guess is that anti-oxidation supplementation depends on the type of cancer, stage, person, age, etc. In other words, I don’t believe that any one, any study, can make one clear definitive statement that antioxidant supplementation is good or bad universally.
What I do believe is that conventional oncology can do little for my cancer, multiple myeloma and a host of studies have proven to me anyway, that antioxidation can enhance the efficacy of certain chemotherapy regimens- this is integrative therapy. 
Further, while I am no expert on EC, I don’t believe that conventional oncology is offering your husband much beside possibly buying him time.
Therefore, I believe that cancer patients and survivors like me must think outside the conventional oncology box.
I have included below, a bunch of studies on the issue.
I will also say that caregiving cancer patients is a difficult but essential job. Thank you.
Let me know if you have any questions. Hang in there,
David Emerson
  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

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“Researchers also observed statistical differences between the two groups in overall survival of participants. For the group taking FOLFOX alone, the median overall survival was 200 days, compared to 596 days for the group taking both curcumin and FOLFOX, with a six-month overall survival of 55.6% and 93.3%, respectively.

However, the researchers do concede that despite these significant differences, there were factors that may have contributed to survival bias in the small cohort, such as differences in tumor staging and the number of metastatic sites. Additionally, median overall survival rates in the combination group were in line with expectations of standard FOLFOX treatment, and the FOLFOX group had poorer overall survival than was expected…”

Antioxidants and other nutrients do not interfere with chemotherapy or radiation therapy and can increase kill and increase survival, part 1.

“Conclusions-Since the 1970s, 280 peer-reviewed in vitro and in vivo studies, including 50 human studies involving 8,521 patients, 5,081 of whom were given nutrients, have consistently shown that non-prescription antioxidants and other nutrients do not interfere with therapeutic modalities for cancer. Furthermore, they enhance the killing of therapeutic modalities for cancer, decrease their side effects, and protect normal tissue. In 15 human studies, 3,738 patients who took non-prescription antioxidants and other nutrients actually had increased survival.”

The use of antioxidant therapies during chemotherapy.

“There are many concerns that antioxidants might decrease the effectiveness of chemotherapy, but increasing evidence suggests a benefit when antioxidants are added to conventional cytotoxic therapies…

Micronutrients in Oncological Intervention.

“Nutritional supplements are widely used among patients with cancer who perceive them to be anticancer and antitoxicity agents…Nutritional supplementation tailored to an individual’s background diet, genetics, tumor histology, and treatments may yield benefits in subsets of patients…”

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