The Simms/Mann - UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology is part of UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and UCLA Oncology. To find out more about research opportunities and medical oncology care, please visit these sites.


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Antioxidants Supplements and Cancer

Antioxidant rich foods include citrus fruits, berries, papaya, broccoli, kale and spinach.  A diet  containing these foods on a regular basis has been associated with good health.   Studies into how antioxidant supplements of beta carotene, vitamins C and E may provide benefit in cancer prevention have been mainly negative with some notable harmful effects.  Antioxidant supplements are not recommended during chemotherapy.  During radiation Vitamin E supplements may reduce radiotherapy toxicity in head and neck patients however there is an increase in overall recurrence and mortality especially in smokers.

Antioxidant supplements are not recommended for either prevention of cancer or during chemotherapy or radiation.  Antioxidant rich foods appear to be beneficial especially when consumed in whole, fresh form that includes dietary fiber which acts as a prebiotic (supports healthy probiotics of microbiome)

Key points are these:

  • Antioxidant rich foods are not associated with adverse effects
  • Beta carotene supplements increase risk of lung cancer and stomach cancer
  • Antioxidant adverse effects are doubled in those who smoke or drink alcohol

For more information, please see the article by Michelle Harvie, PhD, SRD entitled Nutritional Supplements and Cancer:  Potential Benefits and Proven Harms.

Carolyn Katzin, MS, CNS, MNT is the Integrative Oncology Specialist at the Simms/Mann UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology.  For more information regarding her work or to schedule a consultation, please call the Center main line at 310.794.6644.

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