Thursday, August 2, 2018

Supplements and Cancer

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Please consult your doctor before taking any supplements. DO NOT change your diet without asking your doctor first. 

Each of the vitamins listed below has an important job in the body. A vitamin deficiency occurs when you do not get enough of a certain vitamin. Vitamin deficiency can cause health problems. Web Source
Not eating enough fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains and fortified dairy foods may increase your risk for health problems, including heart disease, cancer, and poor bone health (osteoporosis).
  • Vitamin A helps form and maintain healthy teeth, bones, soft tissue, mucus membranes, and skin.
  • Vitamin B6 is also called pyridoxine. Vitamin B6 helps form red blood cells and maintain brain function. This vitamin also plays an important role in the proteins that are part of many chemical reactions in the body. The more protein you eat the more pyridoxine your body requires.
  • Vitamin B12, like the other B vitamins, is important for metabolism. It also helps form red blood cells and maintain the central nervous system.
  • Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is an antioxidant that promotes healthy teeth and gums. It helps the body absorb iron and maintain healthy tissue. It also promotes wound healing.
  • Vitamin D is also known as the "sunshine vitamin," since it is made by the body after being in the sun. Ten to 15 minutes of sunshine 3 times a week is enough to produce the body's requirement of vitamin D for most people at most latitudes. People who do not live in sunny places may not make enough vitamin D. It is very hard to get enough vitamin D from food sources alone. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. You need calcium for the normal development and maintenance of healthy teeth and bones. It also helps maintain proper blood levels of calciumand phosphorus.
  • Vitamin E is an antioxidant also known as tocopherol. It helps the body form red blood cells and use vitamin K.
  • Vitamin K is not listed among the essential vitamins, but without it blood would not stick together (coagulate). Some studies suggest that it is important for bone health.
  • Biotin is essential for the metabolism of proteins and carbohydrates, and in the production of hormones and cholesterol.
  • Niacin is a B vitamin that helps maintain healthy skin and nerves. It also has cholesterol-lowering effects at higher doses.
  • Folate works with vitamin B12 to help form red blood cells. It is needed for the production of DNA, which controls tissue growth and cell function. Any woman who is pregnant should be sure to get enough folate. Low levels of folate are linked to birth defects such as spina bifida. Many foods are now fortified with folic acid.
  • Pantothenic acid is essential for the metabolism of food. It also plays a role in the production of hormones and cholesterol.
  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2) works with the other B vitamins. It is important for body growth and the production of red blood cells.
  • Thiamine (vitamin B1) helps the body cells change carbohydrates into energy. Getting enough carbohydrates is very important during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It is also essential for heart function and healthy nerve cells.
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Will taking vitamins during chemotherapy help? Web Source - chemocare
 
✚Diet vs. supplements - the preferred choice to meet nutritional needs is from the diet.  The vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals (a variety of compounds produced by plants) needed to help our bodies fight cancer are found in a well-balanced diet emphasizing plant-based foods.  According to the nutrition-based literature available, an inverse association has been noted between fruit and vegetable consumption and cancer risk.  In other words, eating more fruits and vegetables may lower your cancer risk.
It is difficult to determine if a specific nutrient is protective, or a specific combination and ratio of phytochemicals.  The ultimate goal is to maintain a well-balanced, plant-based diet, low in fats and sugars to help lower the risk of cancer.  Recommendations include at least 5 servings per day of a variety of fruits and vegetables with breads and starch consumption including 2-3 servings of whole grains.
In cancer research, the intake of individual vitamin supplements, as opposed to consuming fruits and vegetables, has not shown increased protection from these supplements.  In fact, three clinical studies were done examining the protective effects of beta-carotene and lung cancer, two of which found a higher association among cigarette smokers when beta-carotene was supplemented.  The third study showed neither benefit nor harm from the beta-carotene.   
 
✚Phytochemicals refer to a wide variety of compounds produced by plants.  They are found in fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, and other plants.  There are thousands of phytochemicals and they fall into groups such as the polyphenols (subgroup flavonoids), antioxidants (including carotenoids), and sulfides.  Phytochemicals have either antioxidant or hormone-like actions.
✚Flavonoids are found in soy beans, soy products, garbanzo beans, chickpeas, licorice, and tea.  These are estrogen-like substances from plants called phytoestrogens.
✚Antioxidants are commonly found in vegetables such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower.  There are many phytochemicals that fall into this category including carotenoids which are founds in carrots, yams, cantaloupe, butternut squash, and apricots.  The term antioxidant is often associated with vitamins and cancer protection. Antioxidants include vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and carotenoids.  These nutrients are associated with a reduced cancer risk due to their ability to scavenge free radicals from our body.  Free radicals are reactive compounds that can damage normal cells.
✚Sulfides are found in garlic and onions and may have a role in reducing risk of stomach cancer.   These nutrients are found naturally in many fruits and vegetables.  Due to their protective association in food, researchers are trying to determine if this benefit exists with supplemental phytochemicals.
     
✚Herbs have been used for hundreds of years to treat disease.  Many are safe, and others may have severe and harmful side effects, and possibly interfere with cancer therapies such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy and recovery from surgery.  A recent example has been the discovery that levels of chemotherapy were reduced in the body in people who were using the herb St. John's Wort.
Safety considerations are to tell your health care team about any herbal products you are using or are planning to use before, during, or after chemotherapy.  Ask your physician, nurse, or dietitian for reliable information about dietary supplements.  Stop taking the products immediately and contact your physician if you experience side effects such as wheezing, itching, numbness, or tingling in limbs. 
    
The jury is still out regarding supplementation of various phytochemicals and herbs to help prevent or fight cancer.  There are many studies being conducted regarding supplementing and/or megadosing different phytochemicals or herbs.  It appears that much of the encouraging herb / vitamin / cancer  data has been seen in animal studies, which do not necessarily cross over to human studies.  There isn't enough consistent and significant data at this point to draw any strong conclusions or associations to recommend the use of supplements. 


Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs and Chemotherapy / Radiation Therapy for Cancer
Research is underway to determine the safety and possible benefits in using herbs, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals during treatments.
  
✚Megadoses - The literature available has not proven that taking vitamins in small or large doses helps to prevent or reverse cancer.  Megadoses of vitamins can prove to be toxic or harmful in some instances.
✚Water-soluble vitamins are generally harmless due to our body's ability to excrete the excess vitamins as waste.  In some instances there can be negative effects, for example, high doses of Vitamin C can increase the risk of oxalate kidney stones, posing an increased risk for individuals with renal failure.  B6 (pyridoxine), even in moderate dosages, could result in nerve damage.
Quite the opposite of fighting diseases such as cancer, fat-soluble vitamins in large doses can become toxic, because they are stored in the body.  Vitamin A toxicity can lead to changes in bone development, an enlarged liver, anemia, and loss of hair.  High doses of Vitamin D can produce high calcium levels with calcifications in the kidney and blood vessels, and possibly result in osteoporosis.
Note:  We strongly encourage you to talk with your health care professional about your specific medical condition and treatments. The information contained in this website is meant to be helpful and educational, but is not a substitute for medical advice. 


The complicated relationship between immune system functioning and cancer is often misunderstood, according to Tim Birdsall, ND, the vice president of integrative medicine at Cancer Treatment Centers of America and a member of the National Advisory Council for Complementary and Alternative Medicine for the National Institutes of Health.
Your immune system is designed to recognize and destroy abnormal cells. But in many instances, especially in early stage cancers, the surface markers on cancerous cells are identical to those on normal cells, making it impossible for your immune system to recognize them as a threat.
Although boosting your immune system isn’t an actual treatment for cancer, it’s incredibly important as you fight cancer. Cancer patients are susceptible to infection from the disease, as well as from treatments that destroy white blood cells.
“Infection is a huge issue to cancer patients,” Birdsall says. “It is important to do things to boost the immune system and reduce the likelihood of infection.” - Web Source

✚“Vitamin D is of interest not so much because of results of clinical trials, but because of our evolving understanding of the key role it plays in cell [development] and the fact that so many people are really deficient in vitamin D,” says Tim Byers, MD, deputy director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center.
Epidemiological studies have found that people with cancer often have lower circulating levels of vitamin D in their blood. However, the research is mixed.
In a study presented at the 2008 meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, researchers found that vitamin D deficiency was more common among women diagnosed with breast cancer. The study also found that vitamin D deficiency may raise the risk of breast cancer spreading, and raise the risk of death from breast cancer.
But in a large National Cancer Institute study, researchers found no association between blood levels of vitamin D and cancer death, with the possible exception of colorectal cancer. People with high levels of vitamin D were 72% less likely than those with low levels to die of colorectal cancer.
Also, some studies have found that vitamin D may protect against prostate cancer, while other studies have found that it doesn’t help.
There continues to be a flurry of research looking at vitamin D’s role in cancer. More research is needed to truly understand the relationship.
✚Many studies have found that people who eat a lot of garlic are less likely to develop certain common cancers.
That garlic research has led scientists to wonder whether garlic may have cancer-treating properties as well as cancer-prevention capabilities. Although studies are not yet conclusive, there is some evidence that garlic may be useful for cancer in conjunction with medical treatments.
For starters, garlic may be beneficial for cancer patients owing to its immune-boosting abilities, which vary depending on how the garlic has been processed. Additionally, certain substances found in garlic have been shown to suppress growth and fight certain cancerous cells in the lab, including forms of breast and lung cancer.
Early studies have shown that eating garlic can decrease the risk of colorectal cancer and stomach cancer. The same benefit was not found with garlic supplements. However, preliminary prostate cancer research on men in China has shown that both eating garlic and garlic supplements may decrease the risk of prostate cancer.

Green tea contains substances called polyphenols that are believed to have powerful anti-cancer abilities.
Cancerous tumors rely on fast-growing networks of blood vessels to sustain their rapid growth rate. Green tea compounds may possess the ability to help slow or prevent this rapid growth. “Green tea seems to inhibit the development of new blood vessels in tumors, and provides one more approach that can be used to strangle tumors,” Birdsall tells WebMD.
Because it would take the equivalent of drinking 10 to 12 cups of green tea each day to obtain the cancer-fighting levels of green tea compounds, Birdsall recommends that his patients take green tea in extract form. Be aware, there are some concerns about green tea extracts and liver toxicity. Also, a recommendation of 10 to 12 cups of green tea per day would be for cancer treatment, not cancer prevention.
Drinking green tea may increase the survival rates of some cancer patients. One study of women with ovarian cancer found that women who drank green tea were more likely to survive three years after ovarian cancer diagnosis than women who did not drink green tea. The survival rates increased with higher consumption levels of green tea.
Drinking green tea may also help prevent certain cancers. Preliminary research suggests a possible protective effect against bladder, esophageal, pancreatic, ovarian, and possibly cervical cancer, even with as little as 3-5 cups a day. Evidence for breaststomach, and lung cancer is mixed: studies have conflicting findings.
✚Extracts from mushrooms have been used in traditional Asian medicine for thousands of years. More recent scientific studies are beginning to determine reasons for their potential health-promoting actions.
For example, polysaccharides (phytochemicals) from the Ganoderma lucidum mushroom have been shown to inhibit the growth and invasiveness of some cancer cells in the laboratory, including certain forms of breast cancer.
Other fungal varieties that may exhibit anti-cancer activity include reishi, shiitake, maitake and coriolus or turkey tail, mushrooms.
Lentinan, a substance found in shiitake mushrooms, has been shown in the lab to inhibit the growth of human colon cancer cells in mice. This may result from lentinan’s ability to inhibit some enzymes that promote the activity of cancer-causing substances called carcinogens. Beta-glucan, a compound found in maitake mushrooms, is also thought to have tumor-fighting properties, though data on these abilities is still quite limited.
Keep in mind that the studies so far have looked at how these mushroom extracts affect cancer cells in the lab, with only a few documenting the effects in the human body. More research is needed.
Antioxidants are substances found in abundance in fruits and vegetables– and in lesser amounts in nuts, grains, and meat. These phytochemicals fight certain oxygen molecules in your body known as free radicals, which can damage DNA and contribute to the development and proliferation of cancerous cells.
Common antioxidants include vitamins A, C, and E, selenium, certain compounds in green tea and melatonin, a hormone made by the pineal gland in the brain.
The use of antioxidants for cancer prevention and treatment is a controversial and confusing topic. Although experts once believed that megadoses of certain antioxidants, including vitamins A and E, might be beneficial, clinical studies have raised questions about the safety of this practice. Studies have shown that high doses of certain antioxidants can increase cancer occurrence in some populations. For instance, smokers who take high doses of beta carotene are at increased risk for lung cancer.
Some experts worry that the use of antioxidants during radiation therapy and chemotherapy might serve to protect the very cancer cells that are being targeted. A 2008 study in Cancer Research showed that vitamin Csupplements blunted the effectiveness of chemotherapy by 30% to 70%.
Although more research needs to be done, there is data to suggest that antioxidant supplements may improve quality of life for some cancer patients. For example, the combined use of antioxidants in green tea, melatonin, and multivitamins containing high doses of vitamins C and E was shown to reduce pain and fatigue in patients being treated for pancreatic cancer.
In the meantime, there’s no doubt that a diet high in antioxidant-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, has numerous health benefits.
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Be sure to talk with your cancer treatment team before taking antioxidant supplements when you have cancer.

✓ Coping with Treatment Side Effects When You Have Cancer

People with cancer often turn to vitamins and supplements to reduce the side effects of cancer treatment: Nausea from chemotherapy, nerve pain, or debilitating fatigue.
Keep in mind, there are hundreds of chemotherapy drugs. The vitamins and supplements that may help you will depend on your specific treatment.
To optimize your health and reduce the risk of dangerous interactions, don’t take supplements for side effects without talking with your cancer treatment team. Your cancer doctors can help you develop a comprehensive treatment.
Nausea and vomiting are two of the most common side effects of chemotherapy for cancer. These side effects can be serious. Nausea and vomiting can lead to weight loss, nutritional deficiencies, and fatigue, which can make it harder for your body to fight cancer.

There are a number of anti-nausea medications available. But some patients with cancer also find that using ginger, either alone or in conjunction with anti-nausea medicine, significantly reduces nausea and vomiting.

Cancer itself can cause fatigue. But this debilitating lack of energy can also be caused by cancer treatments. In fact, fatigue is a side effect experienced by nine out of 10 people undergoing cancer treatments, including chemotherapy, bone marrow transplants, or radiation therapy.

These treatments can damage cells in your bone marrow that are responsible for making red blood cells and lead to iron-deficiency anemia. With this type of anemia your red blood cells do not contain enough hemoglobin, which carries oxygen throughout your body. Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, and iron supplements may improve the fatigue caused by iron-deficiency anemia.

“Someone with a high need for extra iron might take iron supplements,” says Byers, but most people can get the iron they need from food. One “trick” is to take vitamin C with meals in order to enhance the absorption of the iron in food.

Peripheral neuropathy, or nerve damage, is a common side effect of certain drugs, including the widely prescribed chemotherapy drug paclitaxel.


“[Paclitaxel] can be used to treat a lot of different cancer types – lung cancer, ovarian cancer, breast cancer,” Birdsall tells WebMD. “The amino acid l-glutamine has been shown in numerous studies to be helpful at preventing or treating peripheral neuropathy – pain, numbness, and tingling – associated with [paclitaxel].”

L-glutamine, taken orally, has also been shown in one study to reduce the peripheral neuropathy associated with oxaliplatin
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✛Key Points to Remember When Considering Supplements for Cancer✛

  • Cut through the hype and obtain your information about cancer supplements from reliable sources. Beware of advertisements. There’s a lot of marketing hype out there.
  • No matter how harmless you think a vitamin or supplement might be, check with your doctor about potential interactions with your other treatments.
✓ Remember, the use of vitamins and supplements for cancer is largely based on short-term studies, done mostly in the lab. More studies are needed – and fortunately more research is on its way.

“Only recently are government agencies providing grants to do research on dietary supplements and complementary and alternative therapies,” says pharmacist and licensed acupuncturist K. Simon Yeung, the clinical coordinator of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center About Herbs database.

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