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Anyone following a Nutrition Program?


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I have been doing so much research on nutrition since diagnoses that my family/friends are now encouraging me to change careers (probably so I will stop chatting their ears off about it and tell it to someone who actually WANTS to hear it... :wink: ).

In any event, I was just wondering (out of curiosity) how many members of the board are following any type of nutritional program? (i.e. eating organic, avoiding processed foods, increasing veggie intake, cutting out sugar, taking supplements...)

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Hi Hebbie..

I am following a diet that a naturopath prescribed for me. It is basically a high vegetable protein diet. We are also supplementing that with Calcium Lactate/Magnesium Gluconate, mixed carotenoid complex, Vitamen E and a Herbal Tea Blend.

She told me that while on this, I would need lots of rest and she is right!! It makes me quite tired. Been on it for one week.

Need more info about this, I'd be happy to oblige.

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Hi Ginny,

I never heard anything specific about Vitamin E and cancer, but if I recall correctly, doctors don't recommend ANY antioxident supplements (other than a multi-vitamin) during chemo treatments -- not sure why exactly, but something about it making the chemo not as effective (and someone can feel free to correct me if I am wrong!) :wink:

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Most oncs say not to use anti-oxidants, BUT there is a number of researchers saying just the opposite

Will antioxidants become oncology’s new magic bullet?

Early clinical trials support daring protocol by Dr. Kedar Prasad, which throws conventional fears out window

By Joysa Winter

Office of Public Relations

August 2003

Dr. Kedar Prasad demonstrates how to use the LightCycler real-time PCR machine, which measures polymerase chain reactions to quantify gene expression in cells after antioxidant treatment.

The study results have been vexing oncologists for years.

On one hand you have research that shows that if you administer low doses of antioxidants to animals with cancer immediately before chemotherapy or radiology treatments, the antioxidants will have a protective effect on the cancer cells, rendering the treatments less effective.

But, on the other hand, other studies show a seemingly contradictory result: If you give high doses of antioxidants to animals with cancer in the days leading up these standard therapies, the growth of the cancer cells is inhibited – thereby enhancing the beneficial effects of chemotherapy and radiation. Furthermore, these antioxidants decrease the toxicity of these treatments on normal cells.

“We naturally have no human data on all of this,” explains Kedar Prasad, PhD, director of the Center for Vitamins and Cancer Research in the CU School of Medicine. “All we have are extrapolations from cell and animal data. I would say, though, that 95 percent of oncologists are afraid of using antioxidants in conjunction with standard therapies because they are afraid it will hurt their effectiveness.”

Over the 25 years he has spent studying antioxidants and cancer, however, Dr. Prasad, who has a doctorate in radiation biology, has become convinced that this fear is ultimately hurting cancer patients.

Both bodies of research can be true at the same time, he says, because they are “based on different conceptual frameworks that are derived from specific experimental designs. Thus, each may be true within its parameters.”

Issues like dosage, and whether the antioxidants used are dietary or endogenously made (such as SH-compounds like glutathione and antioxidant enzymes,) is crucial to the outcome, Dr. Prasad says. So, to ignore these distinctions and write off all antioxidants as potentially harmful is ultimately keeping a powerful weapon out of the therapeutic arsenal.


“In these studies, the patient size was small, but what we can say with certainty is that there is no adverse effect of using antioxidants in conjunction with chemo or radiation therapy.” – Kedar Prasad, PhD

What makes antioxidants so powerful?

They are a perfect partner with standard therapies because they deliver a one-two punch against the malignant cells: First the antioxidants weaken the cancer cells and strengthen the good cells; then, when chemo or radiation are administered, the cancer cells are hit hard, and the good cells, which the therapies also hurt, are better able to regroup, because they were stronger to begin with.

He put this idea down on paper five years ago, in the form of a protocol that was published in the Journal of American College of Nutrition (18: 413-423, 1999) although he was providing the information on an informal basis to oncologists and patients long before the publication.

Since then, three clinical trials based on his model have been conducted around the world – and they all have supported his theory. Not a week goes by that Dr. Prasad doesn’t receive a phone call from a cancer patient somewhere around the country, asking for guidance.

“ I think they get my name from the National Cancer Institute, I’m not sure!” Dr. Prasad laughs. “But what happens is they read something of these findings and want to know what to do with their treatment. I can’t give them advice, of course, but I try to show them where to get more information.

“ In these studies, the patient size was small, but what we can say with certainty is that there is no adverse effect of using antioxidants in conjunction with chemo or radiation therapy.”

Putting the Protocol to the Test

Dr. Prasad’s protocol has two stages: high dose and then maintenance.

During the standard treatment, a cancer patient receives one multiple antioxidant preparation containing B-vitamins and appropriate minerals (SEVAK), an additional 8 grams of vitamin C (calcium ascorbate), 800 IU of vitamin E succinate, and 60 mg. of natural beta carotene. This begins 48 hours prior to the use of the standard therapies.

These are considered high doses because at this quantity, they inhibit the growth of cancer cells without affecting the growth of normal cells.

After the chemo or radiation treatments, the patient switches to the maintenance plan, which contains SEVAK and additional supplements reduced in dosage by half. At this level, which is comparable to RDA doses, the antioxidants do not affect the growth of normal or cancer cells.

(A third dosing option, at the toxic level, would inhibit the growth of both normal and cancer cells and is therefore not used in any experimental systems.)

Under his protocol, it is crucial that dietary antioxidants be used because they modify the effects of irradiation on normal and cancer cells differently than endogenously made antioxidants do.

Though he first published this theory five years ago, it is only in recent years that other researchers began putting it to the test.

Two recently completed antioxidant studies, with modest variations on this protocol, were presented at the International Conference on Nutrition and Cancer last October in Montevideo, Uruguay, which Dr. Prasad attended. They are currently being prepared for publication.

A third study is still under way, but its principal investigator has published two case studies using high-dose multiple antioxidants.

The first study was conducted on breast cancer patients by Drs. Eleanor Walker and Jae Ho Kim at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. Forty control patients were given the standard treatment, and forty others received the standard therapy plus antioxidants following the protocol’s guidelines.

The study looked at both the reoccurrence rate for breast tumors as well as the severity of side effects usually caused by standard therapies, such as radiation-induced dermatitis.

“At the end of the 28-month trial, three of the people in the control group had recurrent tumors and none did in the protocol group,” Dr. Prasad says. “Also, the dermatitis was lower in the group following the protocol.”

In the second study, Dr. Jeanne Drisko at the University of Kansas Medical Center tested the protocol on two women with ovarian cancer, using intravenous vitamin C rather than oral. The two case studies, published in the Journal of American College of Nutrition, were so promising, she is now doing a full-fledged clinical trial that is six months under way.

The third study is by Dr. Vinod Kochupillai, head of the Department of Oncology at the All Indian Medical Institute in New Delhi. Her randomized trial tested high-dose antioxidants on people with known small-cell lung carcinoma, which typically has a survival time of less than a year.

“By all clinical criteria, the combination of antioxidants with standard therapies proved to be more effective,” Dr. Prasad says.

Antioxidant magic

So what is it about antioxidants that enhances standard cancer therapies?

The answer probably isn’t what you think, Dr. Prasad says.

“ Most people associate antioxidants with their ability to eliminate free radicals, which helps prevent cancer,” he explains. “They do do that, but this is a different mechanism. Antioxidants cause damage to cancer cells because they have a marked effect on those genes involved in cell proliferation, or apoptosis (the programmed death of cells). By affecting gene expression, they help kill the cancer cells.”

Antioxidants also inhibit the cancer cells’ ability to repair after the chemo or radiation has dealt them a tough blow.

Finally, antioxidants act as an anti-angiogenesis agent – preventing the formation of new blood vessels, which are crucial for cancer cell development. Standard therapies do not affect angiogenesis, “so by combining the two together, you have better results. The two approaches attack the cancer cells in different and unique ways.”

The challenge now for Dr. Prasad is finding a way to spread the word.

The fact so many oncologists still have reservations against antioxidants is problematic because more than 70 percent of their patients take nutritional supplements, including antioxidants, with or without their doctors’ knowledge.

“These practices by patients and their oncologists may be harmful for two reasons,” Dr. Prasad says. “First, because low doses of endogenously made antioxidants or dietary antioxidants that do not affect the growth of cancer cells may protect these cells against radiation damage. Second, because low doses of individual antioxidants taken alone, such as vitamin C and polar carotenoids, may stimulate the growth of some cancer cells.”

The key, in other words, is following the protocol. A patient self-dosing and self-prescribing could potentially do more harm than good.

Into the future

In early July, the issue of antioxidants in cancer treatment became the focal point of a joint meeting by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Dr. Prasad gave a lecture on his protocol, and skeptics gave lectures on their alternate, competing theories. In the end, this issue remains highly controversial in academic circles, and the verdict is still out.

“The studies that have been done are small,” Dr. Prasad concedes, “and they’ve also only been done on epithelial cancers. We don’t know if the protocol will have an impact on lymphomas and other cancers. Ultimately, the only way to resolve this issue is to launch a large-scale, multi-institute, randomized, blinded clinical trial.”

And that is exactly what he is working on next.

“NIH has shown interest in such a study, and I’m recruiting partners for this right now,” Dr. Prasad says. “I hope to apply for a grant by next February.”

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