Should supplemental antioxidant administration be avoided during chemotherapy and radiation therapy? Review uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols
  • Antioxidants
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Neoplasms
  • Oxidative Stress


  • Despite nearly two decades of research investigating the use of dietary antioxidant supplementation during conventional chemotherapy and radiation therapy, controversy remains about the efficacy and safety of this complementary treatment. Several randomized clinical trials have demonstrated that the concurrent administration of antioxidants with chemotherapy or radiation therapy reduces treatment-related side effects. Some data indicate that antioxidants may protect tumor cells as well as healthy cells from oxidative damage generated by radiation therapy and some chemotherapeutic agents. However, other data suggest that antioxidants can protect normal tissues from chemotherapy- or radiation-induced damage without decreasing tumor control. We review some of the data regarding the putative benefits and potential risks of antioxidant supplementation concurrent with cytotoxic therapy. On the basis of our review of the published randomized clinical trials, we conclude that the use of supplemental antioxidants during chemotherapy and radiation therapy should be discouraged because of the possibility of tumor protection and reduced survival.

publication date

  • June 2008



  • Review


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/jnci/djn148

PubMed ID

  • 18505970

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 773

end page

  • 83


  • 100


  • 11