June 11, 2009

Antioxidant Use High Among Breast Cancer Patients

Many breast cancer patients undergoing treatment continue to take antioxidants, even though the consequences of taking the supplements remain unknown, a new study found.

Six in 10 women reported using antioxidants while receiving chemotherapy, radiation or hormone therapy for breast cancer, and about seven in 10 antioxidant users said they used high doses, which was defined as higher than the dose contained in a Centrum multivitamin.

Antioxidant supplements include vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and selenium, and many breast cancer patients told researchers they believe the supplements will protect them from the side effects of treatment, help prevent breast cancer recurrence and improve their overall health.

However, the researchers warned that the actual effects of taking antioxidants during cancer treatment are poorly understood and previous studies have yielded mixed results.

The study's authors said since so many breast cancer patients are using antioxidant supplements, future studies should investigate whether antioxidants affect treatment toxicities, treatment efficacy, cancer recurrence and survival.

SOURCE: CANCER, July 15, 2009