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too many supplements? HELP

Guest cheri

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Hi everyone...I am fairly new and have a question regarding supplements for my father. He has stage 4 LC and just had his first chemo treatment two weeks ago and will receive them every 3 weeks.

Pertaining to supplements, can you take too many? The local alternative health food guy in town tells me no. My father has been on MGN3, CoEnzyme 10, cats claw, Air Power, grapeseed extract, beta glucan, maitake drops, vitamins A, C, and E, and a liver pill (can't remember the name).

It's so hard to determine what you actually need and what is system overload. I don't want my Dad taking too many that it will cause him to have side effects (even though I have been assured that these don't cause side effects) or interfere with other medication. It's so hard to determine what really works and what he needs...you hear so many things that it gets a little murky.

After his chemo two weeks ago the MD put him on a new blood pressure medication, in addition to glucophage. His sugar was 610 the morning he was scheduled to begin chemo! They don't know if it was high due to steroids, radiation, or what...no history of diabetes in the family and a month prior to chemo his sugar was 100. Any thoughts?

His daily regimen now is only MGN, coenzyme 10, and the vitamins. We thought that the supplements might be too much and it is a lot of pills for Dad to take.

Any input would be appreciated!


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I do not know why his blood sugar would register so hi, someone else more knowledgable can probably help out on that. there is a whole thread on "supplements" and one on - I believe "sugar" that contains many articles about this topic. Also visit http://www.immunopower.com and try Patrick Quillans book "how to beat cancer with nutrition" very informative......

Hope this helps.. Joe

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I can't answer your question directly, but I can offer this.

Be VERY careful about supplements. A case in point. My wife (Gay) used to take lithium, a drug used to manage the symptoms of bi-polar disorder. It worked for her for years. A year or so ago she started showing the signs that she was beginning menopause. After talking to her GP she decided to got the "natural" route to help out with the various symptoms she was having rather than get hormone therapy due to the amount and potency of the medications she was taking. Lithium, especially, can be VERY tricky as it's theraputic level is very close to it's toxicity level and lithium toxicity can kill. After doing some research we agreed that one of the supplements she wanted to take was Black Kohosh Root. Gay checked this supplement out with her doctor AND her psychiatrist who both ok'd it. A week after she started taking the Black Kohosh Root she started becomeing very confused and disoriented. Her muscle control started going bad to the point where, after another day, she could hardly stand up. We were both afraid she was starting to experience anothe psychosis. We headed off to the hospital that night. After MANY hours in the ER and a lot of blood tests it was found that her lithium level was over two and a half times normal levels. Also there was every indication her kidneys had shut down completely. We found out later the doctors had give her only a 50/50 chance of making it through the night. They were not sure they could get the lithium levels down in time or that her kidneys would begin functioning again once they did. Well they did and here kidneys did and she's still going strong today with new meds.

I found out through more research myself what had happened. Turned out the Black Kohosh Root can affect the opperation of the kidneys which is where lithium is matabolized! And high lithium levels effect the kidneys ability to matablize! So by taking the supplement Gay had initiated a "possitive feedback" loop in her kidneys that darn near killed her.

The point of all this is that most supplements have NOT been tested in regards to their affect on other medications. They are considered a FOOD and not a drug and those types of tests are not required. But many DO have an effect on organs in the body that, themselves, effect how medications act and react. Your Dad's suger level just may have been caused by one or more of those supplements affecting a part of the body in ways not suspected.

As for the "local alternative health food guy": Remember, his job is to sell the products on his shelves. He may be an all a round OK guy, but that's still his primary concern.

And, yes, you CAN take too many supplements. Over and over again tests have shown that taking too much of ANYTHING hurts the body. And when you start combining this and that and the other you can set up reactions you never expect.

Today Gay and I are very careful about using suplements. I have irritable bowl syndrom with diariha (sp again?) and use Caltrate 600-D to aliviate the sypmtoms of that. Gay and I both take a one a day multi-vitamin. And that's about it. Each time we've thought about adding something else a thourough research on the internet has come up with one problem or another we are NOT willing to risk.

These are just our experiences. The one thing I could suggest would be to try to find a nutritionist who understands the types of medications you are dealing with and can direct you to supplements that are safe and can actually help you out.


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Dear Cheri,

Sorry you have to join us here, but I'm also glad you found us.

Is your father's Onc Doc okay with all the Alternative Med's your dad is taking while he is doing chemo????? Some vitamins might be okay, but from my experience most Onc Doc's don't like patients taking vitamins during chemo treatments.

And in answer to your questions can Vitamins Kill you? "YES"! To much of anything isn't always the right thing. ALWAYS check with your dad's doctor's and let them know what your dad is taking during his treatments, if you haven't already done that.

Good luck and God bless.

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Thanks so much for your helpful responses. Joe, I really appreciate you asking your MD today about my Dad's sugar. That was so nice of you and was reassuring. I plan on looking at the website you mentioned tonight after my girls go to bed (Good luck to me! :D ) I also didn't realize that I could research specific topics in the archives of this website! DUH :oops: I found a ton of information here pertaining to supplements that have really helped, too.

Dean and Connie, I also appreciate your kind words and wisdom...I guess I am so frustrated b/c our oncologist in Pensacola recommended supplements AFTER chemo and possibly not even then; the oncologist in Birmingham said the exact opposite. Said he had no problem with what he was taking even in conjunction with chemo. I just want to make my father well and push this awful disease that has invaded his body back to where it came from. It's almost like an emotional tug of war...which way do you go?

I feel like I have researched and researched and I basically feel like you can find anything you want regarding the treatment of cancer. I mean, I find sites that recommend one thing and then others that completely contradict what I just read! It's hard to differentiate what is right and what is wrong. Then, our doctors recommended two different things as well! I am fully relying on the Lord to just reveal to us what it is that my father needs.

Dean, I did take your advice and am seeing a nutritionist on Wednesday. Maybe she can give us some more insight and instruction on what to do.

I just feel overwhelmed with trying to fight this disease and come to find out that these things may be causing other ailments that we for sure don't need to be dealing with. We were putting a lot of faith in them and when we got back his test results two weeks ago with no progression of disease, before he even began the chemo, we just knew that it was prayer and the supplements.

He has more labwork this Wednesday and then we are off to B'ham next Wednesday for his second chemo treatment. I'll be sure to let you know how he is PROGRESSING! :lol:

Thanks again.


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Hi Cheri,

I would just like to add that I BELIEVE steroids can wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels. I was on Prednisone for about 3 months and was told that they can increase your sugar levels (not the news I wanted to hear!)

As far as supplements -- I am all for them, if your dad's doctor approves them! I took in a list of the supplements I wanted to take, with the dosage amounts and ran them by my oncologist and got his ok -- you might want to do the same, especially during chemo.

I hope this info helps. Take care,


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It is overwhelming. You just have to research it in depth, and make an informed decision. I am chossing to utilize supplements based on a lot of new information on how antioxidants work.

I now believe as do many researchers that they protect the healthy cells from damage of chemo, but do not decrease the effectiveness of chemo on the cancer cells.... Joe

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http://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/11571.c ... accept=yes

Memorial Sloan Kettering has a website for herbs and interactions. If you can't get into it from the above link, try www.mskcc.org and navigate around until you find the site for "herbs, botanicals, etc.".

I'm on a lot of herbs/vitamins, a lot more than your Dad's. I've been on them for years.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi I take nothing but supplements, nothing but HERBAL actually. Once I started radiation I was so down that I had to do something, so the Herbal med's came about. If not for them I would not have made it.... Now I am going to be taking Chemo (starting April 1 2004) and my Herbal med's will no dought need to be adjusted. I have the most cool herbalist in the world, she can adjust my herbal meds at the drop of a hat and has never had to backtrack once. I can't and will not say they are for everyone but they work for me. Problem is finding one that totally understands what it is and how it works, I happen to have found a perfect one. She is not connected to any company nor to any store (CVS, Wal-Mart nor Wal-Greens). Bless Each and Every one of You.

Grumpy One Lung

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I am sorry that I cannot help much on this subject. There is no rule on supplements for cancer patients. This topic is still argumentative.

Someone said, antioxidant will affect the effectiveness of chemo if taking with chemo. Someone said, it is good to take during chemo. No one knows. Most of the oncologists will be conservative on this issue as there is no official scientific answer on this subject.

I just guess "multivitamins" (all-in-one tablet) is okay as each dosage of the vitamins is not high and act as a supplementary only.

This is only my own opinion and without evidence. Please do more research....

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