Can Antioxidant Supplements Prevent Cancer?

Antioxidants are substances that can help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, or unstable molecules. That damage, called “oxidative stress,” is linked to the kind of damage in DNA mutations that can contribute to the risk of certain cancers, as well as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.

In most cases, you can find all the antioxidants you need in a healthy, plant-based diet.

To date, nine randomised controlled clinical trials of dietary antioxidant supplements for cancer prevention have been conducted worldwide to study the effects of antioxidant supplements and cancer. The different studies reached varying conclusions about the efficacy and safety of taking antioxidant supplements to help prevent cancer or taking them during cancer treatment.

Some studies have shown that taking antioxidant supplements – such as vitamins A, C, E, folic acid, and beta-carotene – might help reduce the risk for certain diseases related to oxidative stress, including cancer.

Additional large randomized controlled trials are needed to provide clear scientific evidence about the potential benefits or harms of taking antioxidant supplements during cancer treatment,” the National Cancer Institute (NCI), reports.

A 1993 clinical trial from China found “significantly reduced” stomach cancer mortality rates in participants who took beta-carotene, vitamin E, and selenium over a five-year period.

Another study, however, found that elevated antioxidant levels might heighten the risk for certain types of cancer.

A 1994 Swedish trial of  male smokers found that Among the 876 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed during the trial, no reduction in incidence was observed among the men who received beta-carotene as compared with those who did not. In actual fact, it was found that those who took received beta carotene were more likely to develop lung cancer than male smokers who did not take the supplement. Researchers concluded that the supplements they studied could have both harmful and beneficial effects.

While the Chinese and Swedish studies found that antioxidants could decrease or increase cancer risk, respectively, other studies found that antioxidant supplements had no effect on cancer risk.

The 2005 Women’s Health Study concluded that there was “no benefit or harm associated with two years of beta-carotene supplementation” in regards to cancer and cardiovascular disease risk in women 45 or older.

Antioxidant supplements have also been shown to decrease the effectiveness of certain cancer treatments. Some treatments, such as radiation and certain forms of chemotherapy, use free radicals to kill cancer cells.

Some studies have revealed that because antioxidant supplements work by combating free radicals, taking supplements as a cancer patient may actually lessen the effectiveness of certain cancer treatments.

Getting your antioxidants from foods like fruits, vegetables, and grains, which are rich sources of dietary antioxidants, does not reduce the potency of treatment however; and they also help provide nutrients that support a healthy immune system.

In most cases, you can find all the antioxidants you need in a healthy, plant-based diet.

Eating plenty of differently colored fruits and vegetables can help ensure you get important antioxidants like lycopene, beta-carotene, and anthocyanins.


ALWAYS discuss giving your Child with Cancer any supplements, including antioxidants, with your child’s oncologist,  before beginning a regimen, especially during active cancer treatment.




About LFCT

This is a blog about CHILDHOOD CANCER and CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS Little Fighters Cancer Trust is a non-profit organisation that offers support and aid to Children with Cancer and their families. When a child is diagnosed with cancer it affects the whole family. One of the parents, usually the mother, must give up their job to care for the child and this creates financial problems for the family. In South Africa especially the majority of these families are not well-to-do; many of them are rural. A diagnosis of cancer can wipe out any family’s finances, let alone a poor family. The costs of special medications, special diets, hospital stays, transport to and from the hospital or clinic and accommodation and food costs for the mother who spends most of the time at her child’s bedside are astronomical. These are the people and problems that fall through the cracks, and these are the people that Little Fighters Cancer Trust has pledged to help in any way possible. LFCT takes a holistic approach to assisting the Children with Cancer and their Families, with the main aim to be the preservation of individual dignity and pride. Little Fighters Cancer Trust also focuses on promotion and advocacy of National Childhood Cancer Awareness in an effort to increase awareness of Early Warning Signs of Childhood Cancer. This would result in earlier diagnosis, giving the Child with Cancer more of a chance at Treatment and Survival. See "About" for more Background info

Posted on 27 July, 2017, in Blog, nutrition, Research and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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