Antioxidants and Reducing Cancer Risk

Katrina Claghorn, RD
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Question:

Should I take antioxidants after I have been diagnosed with cancer?

Answer:

Katrina Claghorn, RD, Oncology Dietitian for The University of Pennsylvania Health System, responds:

Most cancer centers are counseling patients against taking antioxidants during chemotherapy and radiation therapy therapy since there is the possibility they may reduce the effectiveness of the treatments. The rationale is that antioxidants may somehow protect the tumor during cytoreductive therapy.

Also, since people often think more is better and may take LARGE amounts of many of the antioxidants it is important to warn people about the potential impact on their treatment. However the key word is "potential", since there are no studies to support the assumption. It is important to understand that the recommendation to avoid antioxidant nutrients only applies during active cancer treatment. These nutrients can be very beneficial before andafter therapy.

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