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Vitamin may reduce cancer drug benefits

1st October 2008

Experts have warned that vitamin C supplements may substantially reduce the benefit from a wide range of anti-cancer drugs.

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Evidence suggests that 30% to 70% less cancer cells in a laboratory were killed by a range of drugs after there had been pre-treatment with vitamin C.

And in follow-up chemotherapy tests found tumours grew more rapidly in mice given cancer pre-treated with vitamin C.

However, Cancer Research UK has warned that while the findings of the study were interesting, it was still at an early stage.

The charity’s Dr Joanna Owens said: "As yet, there is not enough evidence to know whether antioxidants such as vitamin C are helpful or harmful during cancer treatment.

"It is possible that high doses of antioxidants can make treatment less effective, but until we know for sure our advice is to try and get the vitamins you need through a balanced and varied diet rather than through vitamin supplements."

The Health Supplements Information Service said no conclusions could be drawn until research was carried out on humans and that cancer patients should seek expert advice before taking any product not prescribed by their doctor.

The study, carried out at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, found the same mechanism may affect patient outcomes after the team tested the impact of a form of vitamin C on the effectiveness of a range of anti-cancer drugs in tests on cancer cells in the lab.

Researchers found that every drug they tested did not work as well if cells were pretreated with vitamin C.

 

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