Vitamin E Muscatine IA

Not all vitamins proved equally helpful. Women with high blood levels of folate, also known as folic acid or vitamin B-9, saw a bigger drop in their neutrophil counts than women with less folate in their blood.

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Charles Lee Baum, MD
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Ease Chemo with Vitamin E

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Much controversy surrounds the issue of whether or not it’s safe to take vitamin supplements during chemotherapy. Some doctors say they may reduce the effectiveness of the drugs, while others believe they can help patients fight the disease and better cope with treatment. But new research suggests that some vitamins, at least, may help cancer patients fight off infections, a common side effect of chemotherapy.

In a small study at the University of Vermont, women with breast cancer who reported taking either a multivitamin or vitamin E alone while undergoing chemotherapy saw a smaller drop in their level of neutrophils, white blood cells that protect against infection, than women who said they didn’t take supplements.

But not all vitamins proved equally helpful. Women with high blood levels of folate, also known as folic acid or vitamin B-9, saw a bigger drop in their neutrophil counts than women with less folate in their blood.

What does this mean about other supplements? The jury is still out on A, C, and others, so if you’re undergoing chemotherapy or taking any other cancer drugs, you should always discuss your supplement regimen with your doctor, says oncologist and hematologist Richard Branda, lead author of the study. Just because they’re natural doesn’t always mean they’re good for you.

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