Leukemia drug side effects worse when vitamins low

July 14, 2004 in Nutrition for Children and Teenagers, Nutrition Topics in the News, Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements

Leukemia drug side effects worse when vitamins low

Findings from a new study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggest that kids with leukemia do not take enough antioxidant vitamins, raising their risk of side effects during chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy produces changes that stress the body's antioxidant defense system, therefore, it's important that the diets of cancer patients contain adequate amounts of antioxidants.

In a 6-month study, the researchers examined antioxidant intake and chemotherapy side effects in 103 children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common cancer in kids.

During the study period, subjects ingested vitamin E, total carotenoid, beta-carotene, and vitamin A in amounts that were 66, 30, 59, and 29 percent, respectively, of the US recommended dietary allowance or of the amounts specified in the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The authors also found that greater intake of vitamin C was associated with fewer therapy delays, less side effects, and fewer days spent in the hospital. Similarly, the risk of infection and side effects decreased as vitamin E and beta-carotene intake increased.

The researchers commented that their results suggest that it would be prudent for children with ALL to receive nutritional counselling to ensure that they are meeting their needs for antioxidant nutrients.

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