Contrary to supplement naysayers, a study from Roswell Park Cancer Institute demonstrated that taking certain multivitamins before breast cancer diagnosis is linked to a significant 40% reduction in peripheral neuropathy, painful damage to the nerves in hands and/or feet that can be caused by a chemo drug Taxol (paclitaxel). Further findings were that use of multivitamins throughout chemo cycles was associated with a 25% reduction in neuropathy. Since nearly 40% of people receiving chemotherapy develop peripheral neuropathy – a major reason why people with cancer stop chemo prematurely even though treatments are producing good results – this finding with vitamin intake is immensely important and encouraging.
But the multivitamins alone might not be the sole driving factor in the reduced levels of neuropathy. Rather, since multivitamin users often engage in other healthy habits, it’s reasonable that the combined impact of these habits could be a key to substantially lower neuropathy pain. This suggests that researchers should explore a program of healthy behaviors that could help retard painful, often debilitating neuropathy.
It’s also worth noting that this survey analyzed patients who had begun taking supplements on their own, without any guidance or individual tailoring by a trained dietitian or expert on what exactly to take or what dosage. In fact, targeted supplementation with evidence-based dosing might have produced even better results. For instance, a study of lung cancer patients receiving Taxol along with another chemotherapy drug found that taking a supplement containing a good quality fish oil resulted in reduced neuropathy. In other research, vitamin D deficiency as well as elevated levels of saturated fats in the blood have been found to actually worsen chemotherapy neuropathy.
If you have questions, registered dietitians (RDs) with in-depth training at the Block Center can suggest a specific set of supplements to help retard neuropathy as well as recommend physical therapy interventions that can also help relieve the discomfort of this very troubling side effect. To learn more please call 1-877-41-BLOCK.