Antioxidants for Sports & Fitness

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Why Use

Antioxidants and Free Radicals

Why Do Athletes Use It?*

Some athletes say that antioxidants help protect the body from free radicals.

What Do the Advocates Say?*

Antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, CoQ10, glutathione, and alpha lipoic acid are important supplements for everyone, but especially for those who exercise on a regular basis. The rationale is that exercise is a highly oxidative process and, as a consequence, produces free radicals from aerobic metabolism. Antioxidant compounds help alleviate this process.

There is conflicting evidence whether the best time to supplement with an antioxidant is before or after a workout.

*Athletes and fitness advocates may claim benefits for this supplement based on their personal or professional experience. These are individual opinions and testimonials that may or may not be supported by controlled clinical studies or published scientific articles.

Dosage & Side Effects

Antioxidants and Free Radicals

How Much Is Usually Taken by Athletes?

Most research has demonstrated that strenuous exercise increases production of harmful substances called free radicals, which can damage muscle tissue and result in inflammation and muscle soreness. Exercising in cities or smoggy areas also increases exposure to free radicals. Antioxidants, including vitamin C and vitamin E, neutralize free radicals before they can damage the body, so antioxidants may aid in exercise recovery. Regular exercise increases the efficiency of the antioxidant defense system, potentially reducing the amount of supplemental antioxidants that might otherwise be needed for protection. However, at least theoretically, supplements of antioxidant vitamins may be beneficial for older or untrained people or athletes who are undertaking an especially vigorous training protocol or athletic event.1 , 2

Placebo-controlled research, some of it double-blind, has shown that taking 400 to 3,000 mg of vitamin C per day for several days before and after intense exercise may reduce pain and speed up muscle strength recovery.3 , 4 , 5 However, taking vitamin C only after such exercise was not effective in another double-blind study.6 While some research has reported that vitamin E supplementation in the amount of 800 to 1,200 IU per day reduces biochemical measures of free-radical activity and muscle damage caused by strenuous exercise,7 , 8 , 9 several studies have not found such benefits,10 , 11 , 12 , 13 and no research has investigated the effect of vitamin E on performance-related measures of strenuous exercise recovery. A combination of 90 mg per day of coenzyme Q10 and a very small amount of vitamin E did not produce any protective effects for marathon runners in one double-blind trial,14 while in another double-blind trial a combination of 50 mg per day of zinc and 3 mg per day of copper significantly reduced evidence of post-exercise free radical activity.15

In most well-controlled studies, exercise performance has not been shown to improve following supplementation with vitamin C, unless a deficiency exists, as might occur in athletes with unhealthy or irrational eating patterns.16 , 17 Similarly, vitamin E has not benefited exercise performance,18 , 19 except possibly at high altitudes.20 , 21

Side Effects

Antioxidants include many different nutrients, each of which has potential side effects. Look up the unique side effects for each and discuss the potential benefits and risks with your doctor or pharmacist before adding antioxidants, such as:

Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

Antioxidants include many different nutrients, each of which has the potential to interact with drugs. Look up the unique interactions for each and discuss the potential benefits and risks of your current medications with your doctor or pharmacist before adding antioxidants, such as:

Interactions with Medicines

Certain medicines interact with this supplement.

Types of interactions: Beneficial Adverse Check

Replenish Depleted Nutrients

  • none

Reduce Side Effects

  • none

Support Medicine

  • Docetaxel

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.22 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.23 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals24 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.25 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E, vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)—all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.26

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but it clearly shows that antioxidants need not be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.27 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

    A new formulation of selenium (Seleno-Kappacarrageenan) was found to reduce kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of cisplatin in one human study. However, the level used in this study (4,000 mcg per day) is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor.28

  • Paclitaxel

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.29 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.30 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals31 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.32 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E, vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)—all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.33

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but the article strongly suggests that antioxidants need not be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy would be interfered with.34

    A new formulation of selenium (Seleno-Kappacarrageenan) was found to reduce kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of cisplatin in one human study. However, the level used in this study (4,000 mcg per day) is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor.35

    Glutathione , the main antioxidant found within cells, is frequently depleted in individuals on chemotherapy and/or radiation. Preliminary studies have found that intravenously injected glutathione may decrease some of the adverse effects of chemotherapy and radiation, such as diarrhea.36

Reduces Effectiveness

  • none

Potential Negative Interaction

  • Atorvastatin
    In one study, daily supplementation with a combination of antioxidants (800 IU of vitamin E, 1,000 mg of vitamin C, 25 mg of beta-carotene, and 100 mcg of selenium) blocked the beneficial effect of simvastatin-plus-niacin on HDL cholesterol levels.37 Although there is evidence that some or all of these nutrients may help prevent heart disease, individuals taking simvastatin (or other statin drugs) who wish to take antioxidants should discuss the use of these supplements with their doctor.
  • Lovastatin
    In one study, daily supplementation with a combination of antioxidants (800 IU of vitamin E, 1,000 mg of vitamin C, 25 mg of beta-carotene, and 100 mcg of selenium) blocked the beneficial effect of simvastatin-plus-niacin on HDL cholesterol levels.38 Although there is evidence that some or all of these nutrients may help prevent heart disease, individuals taking simvastatin (or other statin drugs) who wish to take antioxidants should discuss the use of these supplements with their doctor.
  • Pravastatin
    In one study, daily supplementation with a combination of antioxidants (800 IU of vitamin E, 1,000 mg of vitamin C, 25 mg of beta-carotene, and 100 mcg of selenium) blocked the beneficial effect of simvastatin-plus-niacin on HDL cholesterol levels.39 Although there is evidence that some or all of these nutrients may help prevent heart disease, individuals taking simvastatin (or other statin drugs) who wish to take antioxidants should discuss the use of these supplements with their doctor.
  • Rosuvastatin
    In one study, daily supplementation with a combination of antioxidants (800 IU of vitamin E, 1,000 mg of vitamin C, 25 mg of beta-carotene, and 100 mcg of selenium) blocked the beneficial effect of simvastatin-plus-niacin on HDL cholesterol levels.40 Although there is evidence that some or all of these nutrients may help prevent heart disease, individuals taking simvastatin (or other statin drugs) who wish to take antioxidants should discuss the use of these supplements with their doctor.
  • Simvastatin
    In another study, daily supplementation with a combination of antioxidants (800 IU of vitamin E, 1,000 mg of vitamin C, 25 mg of beta-carotene, and 100 mcg of selenium) blocked the beneficial effect of simvastatin-plus-niacin on HDL cholesterol levels.41 Although there is evidence that some or all of these nutrients may help prevent heart disease, individuals taking simvastatin who wish to take antioxidants should discuss the use of these supplements with their doctor.

Explanation Required

  • Busulfan

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.42 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.43 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals44 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.45 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E, vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)—all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.46

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.47 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

  • Carboplatin

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.48 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.49 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals50 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.51 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E, vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)—all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.52

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.53 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

  • Chlorambucil

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.54 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.55 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals56 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.57 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E, vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)—all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.58

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.59 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

  • Cladribine

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.60 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.61 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals62 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.63 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E, vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)—all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.64

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.65 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

  • Erlotinib

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.66 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.67 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals68 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.69 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E, vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)—all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.70

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.71 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

  • Floxuridine

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.72 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.73 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals74 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.75 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E, vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)—all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.76

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.77 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

  • Fludarabine

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.78 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.79 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals80 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.81 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E, vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)—all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.82

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.83 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

  • Irinotecan

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.84 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.85 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals86 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.87 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E, vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)—all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.88

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.89 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

  • Lomustine

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.90 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.91 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals92 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.93 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E, vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)—all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.94

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.95 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

  • Mechlorethamine

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.96 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.97 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals98 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.99 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E, vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)—all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.100

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.101 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

  • Melphalan

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.102 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.103 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals104 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.105 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E, vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)—all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.106

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.107 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

  • Mercaptopurine

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.108 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.109 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals110 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.111 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E, vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)—all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.112

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.113 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

  • Polifeprosan 20 with Carmustine

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.114 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.115 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals116 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.117 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E, vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)—all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.118

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.119 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

  • Thioguanine

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.120 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.121 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals122 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.123 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E, vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)—all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.124

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.125 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

  • Thiotepa

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.126 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.127 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals128 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.129 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E, vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)—all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.130

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.131 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

  • Uracil Mustard

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.132 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.133 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals134 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.135 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E, vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)—all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.136

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.137 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

  • Vincristine

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.138 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.139 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals140 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.141 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E, vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)—all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.142

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.143 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

More Resources

Antioxidants and Free Radicals

Resources

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