The discoveries of x-rays and radiation by scientists Becquerel and Rontgen in the late 1800s got the ball rolling in radiation application. Marie Curie's Nobel Prize winning work with radioactive elements also helped set the stage at the turn of the century. Radiation therapy is certainly hard on the body. For those who are in the process of going through it, there have been questions regarding whether one can continue taking antioxidants and supplements. The concern is whether it will reduce the effectiveness of the therapy. When controlling cancer, radiation therapy comes as one of the primary treatments. It uses a large mechanism that emits ionizing radiation, which is primarily used for annihilating cancer cells. Effective as it is, radiation therapy has its share of benefits as well as side effects. They were mostly cures of superficial cancers and the reoccurrence of tumors in treated patients were high due to the unrefined nature of the radiation application methods and the massive doses or radiation given.
Benefits of Radiation Therapy:
• Kills Cancer Cells – Ionizing radiation, when emitted in specific doses, kills cancer cells, especially those clumped into tumors. Doctors focus the radiation on a tumor, as the radiation gradually whittles it down until it disappears or becomes significantly smaller. Some cancers are resistant to radiation, though, so doctors have to combine radiotherapy with other medical procedures. It works best on small tumors, leukemia, and lymphomas.
• Painless – Other treatments require cancer patients to go under the knife, which is quite painful once the anesthesia wears off. With radiation therapy, the beam of radiation is focused on an affected area, as it penetrates skin and centers on the cancer cells. Depending on the type of cancer, the beam rapidly repulses or shrinks tumors.
• Normal Cells can Recover – Ionizing radiation harms both normal and cancer cells. But since the treatment can be fractionated into separate sessions, normal cells have the chance to repair themselves and recover. Cancer cells, on the other hand, lack the framework for recovery, so they remain damaged by the treatment.
Most doctors said they felt that radiation therapy, chemotherapy and surgery are the best treatment options for cancer patients, but the side effects of the treatments can be physically and emotionally damaging. In the past, doctors were concerned about antioxidant use with radiation treatment in that it might interfere with the cancer cell oxidation levels that assist chemotherapy and radiation in killing tumors. To address this, the Cancer Treatment Centers of America researchers analyzed the prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels of prostate cancer patients after radiation therapy, and found no difference between the control group and the group using antioxidants such as green tea extract, melatonin, high-potency multivitamins, vitamin C and vitamin E. Doctors say that the study provides evidence that antioxidants as a complementary therapy in cancer treatment does not interfere with external beam radiation therapy and that antioxidants are one of many complementary and alternative medicine therapies that are crucial in today's fight against cancer.
In the end, it was proven that taking antioxidants helped patients and was beneficial to their overall sense of well-being in addition to helping them assimilate to the radiation.
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