Phytochemicals as a Part of Cancer Treatment
Phytochemicals are compounds made by plant-based foods that consist of nutrients such as vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals that impart a great effect in the human body. The majority of these phytochemicals are known as antioxidants, beta carotene, carotenoids, vitamin C, folic acid, and vitamin E (www.cancer.org). (Palmer, 2010) Since 1979, Kedar N. Prasad, PhD, was the pioneer of the antioxidant therapy for cancer treatment and the first leader to show that vitamin C improves the effect of chemotherapeutic and also discovered that vitamin E is effective for killing cancer cells. Even though, phytochemicals have been nominated to promote health, the reality is that there is an existent controversy whether the antioxidants are helpful or harmful within the cancer treatment (Palmer, 2010).
Keith Block, MD, medical director of the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment in Evanston III mentioned that it is very important the use of antioxidants during cancer therapy. (Block, 2009), admits the discrepancy whether antioxidants protect normal cells or cancer cells and he considers that phytochemicals should be administered with chemotherapy due to the fact that oxidative stress promotes the multiplication of cancer cells. One of the problems that many cancer patients have is that their antioxidants levels are always low. (Block 2009) patients with low levels of antioxidants are more susceptible to suffer side effects, and also other side effects are associated with the oxidative stress which promotes cytotoxicity.
To fundament his theory based on the antioxidants issues, Block conducted several studies examining the effects of antioxidants to provide evidence-based science on this issue. Block’s colleagues, worked in an Extensive evaluation from more than 800 cancer’s cases, resulting that there is no evidence that support the theory that antioxidant supplements has a negative effects or interfere with the therapeutic of chemotherapy agents. This study supports the idea in where antioxidants may help increase the rate of cancer survivals, having more tumor response, and patients’ ability to tolerate treatment. It is important to mentions that this study was done with the following antioxidants members, glutathione, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, ellagic acid, selenium, and beta-carotene. Other antioxidants evaluated were glutathione, melatonin, antioxidant mixture, N-acetylcysteine, L-carnitine, and Coenzyme Q10. These groups of antioxidants showed evidence of decreased toxicities from the use of antioxidants with chemotherapy, this information were published in the International Journal of Cancer in 2008 (Palmer, 2010).
Based on “Patrick (Quillin, 2000, PhD, RD, CNS). The combination of conventional medicine and nutrition therapy is greatly important for all existent conditions, showing that weight loss in patients suffering from cancer, drastically increases mortality rates, and lowering response to any cancer’s therapy. Moreover, chemotherapy and radiation are enough stressors to create malnutrition in patients in suffering of cancer. In addition, malnutrition is another agent that is responsible for all cancer deaths due to the lack of important nutrients such as serum albumin, which is a leading indicator of protein and calorie malnutrition. In order to assist a cancer patient with a new dietary guidelines based on nutritional meals, it is important to combine the conventional medicine with a nutrition therapy through a Registered Dietitian, taking into consideration that each individual has different diets needs, based on his or her type of cancer condition (www.immunopower.com/article.html). Finally, (Block, 2013) is not only combining good nutrition through phytochemicals and other nutrients to enhance treatment and diminished the side effects of chemo, also he is improving the response to chemotherapy, administering chemo drugs in concert with optimal biological rhythms (http://www.blockmd.com/recent_news).