Reports indicate anticancer activity with higher blood levels of CoQ 10 (reduced risk of melanoma development, recurrence and progression.) Why do we rarely hear about this? Very few human studies have been conducted to confirm these findings. (imagine that…no profit potential…no money to conduct this study)
What is CoQ 10?
CoQ 10 (also known as: coenzyme Q10, Q10, Vitamin Q10, Ubiquinone, Ubiquinol, Ubidecarenone) is an important protein made by the body, that is involved in cellular metabolism (converting the energy from fats and sugars into usable cellular energy) and as a protective antioxidant.
CoQ 10 stimulates the immune system
Numerous studies have reported on the immune stimulating effects of CoQ 10, although the mechanisms involved in this physiologic activity are not known.
CoQ 10 can suppress cancer cell growth
The mechanisms involved in this anticancer activity are not known.
CoQ 10 protects the heart from chemotherapy injury
Studies have demonstrated that CoQ 10 can protect heart tissue from the potentially damaging effects of a commonly used class of chemotherapy drugs, called anthracyclines (i.e. doxorubicin).
CoQ 10 blood levels correlate with the risk of developing melanoma
Researchers prospectively followed 117 early stage (none with metastatic disease) melanoma patients and 125 healthy volunteers (control group), and they discovered some remarkable differences. First, the CoQ 10 levels were significantly lower in patients than in control group. Second, those with CoQ 10 levels less than 0.6 mg/L (low) had a 790% increased risk of developing metastatic disease compared with those patients who had higher levels of CoQ 10; the time to develop metastases was also almost double in patients with CoQ 10 levels 0.6 mg/L or higher! Among the 82 melanoma patients with a low CoQ 10 level (less than 0.6 mg/L), 17 of them died during the study period…whereas, none of the patients with higher CoQ 10 levels died.
CoQ 10 has been reported to enhance the efficacy of interferon therapy for melanoma
One of the standard therapies for use in patients with advanced stages of melanoma (stages 3-4) is an immune stimulating agent, interferon (IFN). IFN stimulates the immune system to recognize and attack melanoma cells. Patients with early stage disease (stages 1-2) are not typically recommended to receive IFN after surgery, as this drug is difficult for many patients to tolerate due to various side effects and the potential benefit in reducing the risk of recurrence has not well-established in these early stages.
One enterprising group of oncologists postulated that by giving CoQ 10 to those with early stage melanoma, they might be able to further stimulate the immune system. What they found was incredible:
In their study, they gave 32 patients with early stage (stage 1-2) melanoma IFN (2 injections per day of 600,000 IU) plus 400mg per day of CoQ10 for 3 years after surgery, while 49 received only interferon. The patients were monitored for five years after their treatment ended. They reported that the patients who received the IFN + CoQ10 had a reduction in their risk of developing metastases by 10-times compared with those who received only IFN. Furthermore, the IFN + CoQ 10 patients had far fewer IFN-related side effects compared with the IFN only patients; 22% versus 82%, respectively.
Other cancers that might benefit from CoQ 10 supplementation:
Very small studies and case reports have suggested that CoQ 10 may help some cancer patients live longer, including patients with cancers of the breast, pancreas, lung, colon, rectum, and prostate. Although these reports are promising, they are unfortunately not high-quality studies, therefore not much weight can be placed on these results.
Note of caution…don’t take CoQ 10 during radiation therapy:
A mouse study demonstrated reduced anticancer activity of radiation therapy when supplemented with CoQ 10. Radiation therapy works by creating free radicals in cancer cells, which then interact with the DNA and cause cell death. It is believed that by supplementing with a potent antioxidant, such as CoQ 10, the free radicals created by radiation therapy will be diminished along with its’ anticancer efficacy. Read my review article on this in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
CoQ 10 side effects:
None-to-mild side effects, including mild insomnia, elevated liver enzymes, rashes, nausea, upper abdominal pain/heartburn, dizziness, sensitivity to light, irritability, headache, and fatigue.
Commonly prescribed medications can lower CoQ 10 levels:
Lipid lowering medications (such as lovastatin, pravastatin, simvastatin, gemfibrozil) and the oral diabetes medications (such as glyburide and tolazamide) are well-known to reduce CoQ 10 levels. Patients taking these medications should discuss with their primary care physician supplementation with CoQ 10.
Cautionary effects of CoQ 10:
CoQ 10 may reduce the efficacy of warfarin.
CoQ 10 may reduce insulin requirements in diabetics.
As CoQ 10 has not been exhaustively researched with every chemotherapy agent or combination of agents (it’s never going to happen), recognize that there is a possibility of interactions that can either increase or decrease the anticancer effectiveness of the chemotherapy agent. Always discuss any use of supplements with your oncology team prior to using them.
There are no established dosing guidelines. In human studies, supplementation doses and administration schedules have varied, but usually have been in the range of 90 to 390 mg/day (most common recommendation: 100-200 mg/day)
Most absorbable form of CoQ 10:
Ubiquinol absorbs up to 8 times greater than ubiquinone, and higher levels of ubiquinol remain in the blood far longer than ubiquinone.
CoQ 10 is fat soluble. It is more effectively absorbed when taken with a meal (particularly with lipids).
National Cancer Institute PDQ: CoQ 10
About Herbs, Botanicals and Other Products (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center): CoQ 10
Medline Plus (National Library of Medicine): CoQ 10
CoQ 10 and Cancer Treatment (Life Extension)**although I like many of their products, this is still a supplement company**
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