Children being treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) seem more able to deal with their treatment if their levels of antioxidants don't drop too much, new study findings suggest.
Cancer outcomes among adults are better when they have higher antioxidant concentrations, Dr. Kara M. Kelly and her colleagues note in the journal Pediatric Blood and Cancer. However, little is known about antioxidant levels in children with cancer.
The team therefore followed 103 children newly diagnosed with ALL, measuring antioxidant levels, antioxidant capacity, and oxidative damage during the first 6 months of treatment. Overall, blood levels of vitamin E decreased over time, while total carotenoids and vitamin A, increased. Vitamin C and oxidative damage increased over the first few months, then declined by the sixth month, the researchers found.
Antioxidant capacity decreased throughout the study, "suggesting that the pool of flavanoids is reduced with initiation of chemotherapy." The children with higher concentrations of vitamin A, vitamin E and total carotenoids, tended to have "fewer dose reductions, fewer infections, improved quality of life, less delay in chemotherapy treatment schedule, reduced toxicity, and fewer days spent in the hospital," Kelly's group writes.
Although more research is needed, the investigators say the current findings suggest that children with ALL may experience fewer treatment-related side effects if the amount of fruits and vegetables in their diet is increased.
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