Harvard Radiation Oncology Program, Boston, Massachusetts.Department of Radiation Oncology, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts; Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.
The safety of antioxidant supplementation during radiation therapy (RT) for cancer is controversial. Antioxidants could potentially counteract the pro-oxidant effects of RT and compromise therapeutic efficacy. We performed a prospective study nested within the Physicians' Health Study (PHS) randomized trial to determine if supplemental antioxidant use during RT for prostate cancer is associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer death or metastases.
PHS participants (383) received RT for prostate cancer while randomized to receive beta-carotene (50 mg on alternate days) or placebo. The primary endpoint was time from RT to lethal prostate cancer, defined as prostate cancer death or bone metastases. The Kaplan-Meier method was used to estimate survival probabilities and the log-rank test to compare groups. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to estimate the effect of beta-carotene compared with that of placebo during RT.
With a median follow-up of 10.5 years, there was no significant difference between risk of lethal prostate cancer with the use of beta-carotene during RT compared with that of placebo (hazard ratio = 0.72; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.42-1.24; p = 0.24). After we adjusted for age at RT, prostate-specific antigen serum level, Gleason score, and clinical stage, the difference remained nonsignificant. The 10-year freedom from lethal prostate cancer was 92% (95% CI, 87-95%) in the beta-carotene group and 89% (95% CI, 84-93%) in the placebo group.
The use of supplemental antioxidant beta-carotene during RT was not associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer death or metastases. This study suggests a lack of harm from supplemental beta-carotene during RT for prostate cancer.
Margalit DN, Kasperzyk JL, Martin NE, Sesso HD, Gaziano JM, Ma J, Stampfer MJ, Mucci LA. Are you the author?
Reference: Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2011 Nov 11. Epub ahead of print.