Cell Study Suggests That Natural-Source Vitamin E Succinate May Enhance Cancer Killing Effect of Radiation Treatment

BACKGROUND: Controversy currently surrounds the use of antioxidant
supplements by cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy. Some
oncologists believe that antioxidant supplements may interfere with
radiation, which destroys cancer cells by generating large amounts of free
radicals. Other physicians feel that antioxidants may help protect normal
cells from collateral radiation damage.

RESEARCH: Researchers cultured normal human connective-tissue cells and
cervical and ovarian cancer cells with natural-source d-alpha tocopheryl
succinate, a common form of vitamin E. The cells were then exposed to gamma
radiation to simulate radiation therapy for cancer.

RESULTS: Vitamin E succinate enhanced chromosomal (genetic) damage in
cancer cells exposed to radiation, a finding consistent with earlier
research. However, vitamin E succinate protected normal cells from
radiation damage.

IMPLICATIONS: Based on this cell-culture study, vitamin E succinate may
enhance the therapeutic effects of radiation therapy in cancer while also
protecting normal cells. The researchers wrote, "The use of alpha
tocopheryl succinate during radiation therapy may improve the efficacy of
radiation therapy by enhancing tumor response and decreasing some of the toxicities on normal cells." (Note: Applying these results to oral
administration of vitamin E succinate must be interpreted with caution,
because vitamin E succinate is cleaved during the digestive process.)

Kumar B, Jha MN, Cole WC, et al, "D-alpha-tocopheryl succinate (vitamin E)
enhances radiation-induced chromosomal damage levels in human cancer cells,
but reduces it in normal cells," Journal of the American College of
Nutrition, 2002;21:339-343.

For the original abstract, visit: <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov:80/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=12166531&dopt=Abstract>

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