Background: Although many patients take antioxidant dietary supplements during breast cancer treatment, the benefits of such supplementation are unproven. The authors of this report analyzed the prevalence of and factors associated with antioxidant supplement use during breast cancer (BC) treatment among women who participated in the Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project.
Methods: From 2002 through 2004, women with BC who had participated a case-control study from 1996 to 1997 were invited to participate in a follow-up interview. Antioxidant supplement use was defined as any self-reported intake of supplemental vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, or selenium in individual supplements or multivitamins.
Results: Follow-up interview participants were younger, more predominantly white, and of higher socioeconomic status than women who did not respond. Among 764 participants who completed the follow-up interview, 663 (86.8%) reported receiving adjuvant treatment for their BC. Of those 663 women, 401 (60.5%) reported using antioxidants during adjuvant treatment: One hundred twenty of 310 women (38.7%) used antioxidants during chemotherapy, 196 of 464 women (42.2%) used them during radiation, and 286 of 462 women (61.9%) used them during tamoxifen therapy. Of 401 antioxidant users, 278 women (69.3%) used high doses (doses higher than those contained in a Centrum multivitamin). The factors that were associated with high antioxidant supplement use during treatment were higher fruit and vegetable intake at diagnosis (relative risk [RR], 1.71; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.13-2.59), tamoxifen use (RR, 3.66; 95% CI, 2.32-5.78), ever using herbal products (RR, 3.49; 95% CI, 2.26-5.38), and ever engaging in mind-body practices (RR, 1.72; 95% CI, 1.13-2.64).
Conclusions: Given the common use of antioxidant supplements during BC treatment, often at high doses and in conjunction with other complementary therapies, future research should address the effects of antioxidant supplementation on BC outcomes.