Vitamins to relieve chemotherapy side effects

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Folic acid, Immune system, Cancer

As many cancer patients and their families know, the side-effects
of chemotherapy can seem as bad as the cancer itself. An unexpected
finding by researchers...

As many cancer patients and their families know, the side-effects of chemotherapy can seem as bad as the cancer itself. An unexpected finding by researchers testing a drug from Eli Lilly and Co., the American pharmaceuticals group, may help some cancer patients cope with their treatments. In the course of studying the experimental drug Alimta, researchers found that giving folic acid and B12 to cancer patients deficient in those common vitamins significantly reduced side effects from the therapy. "The vast, vast majority of severe side-effects and virtually all the lethal side-effects were eliminated"​ in the nutrition-deprived patients when they took vitamins, said Dr. Paul A. Bunn, director of University of Colorado Cancer Center​ and a lead researcher in the Eli & Lilly Co.​ study. Even patients who were not low on the two vitamins had fewer side effects after taking B12 and folic acid at normally recommended doses, Dr. Bunn said. Dr. Bunn said the benefits of taking vitamins likely apply to all cancer drugs in the anti-metabolite class, which covers a large number of cancer drugs now in use. He noted, "This is the first time it (the vitamin supplementation) has ever shown to be useful"​ for cancer patients in a drug company clinical trial. When 78 vitamin-deficient patients were given monthly B12 shots and a daily multivitamin with folic acid over three months, the side effects lessened or went away. Dr. Bunn said he would advise doctors to check for vitamin deficiencies in their patients receiving an anti-metabolite cancer therapy and to prescribe the vitamins if needed. The finding "is immediately applicable to cancer patients,"​ Dr. Bunn said. The number who could benefit, he said, "is not a trivial number."​ Source: HealthWorld Online

Related topics: Science

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