Okay to take vitamins during chemo?

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Question from Lisab: What are your recommendations as far as taking vitamins during chemo treatment?
Answers - Larry Norton, M.D. I actually have very strong views on this. The only vitamin supplementation I recommend is vitamin D. I am advising vitamin D-3 at 2000 units a day. It may turn out that higher doses are actually preferable, but we do know for sure that 2000 units is safe. Almost everybody in the world who does not live at the equator is vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D is made by the skin by exposure to the sun, but those of us in the far north or far south and who wear clothes do not have enough skin exposure to make enough vitamin D. I do not advise excessive sun exposure because of risk of skin aging and skin cancer. Hence vitamin D supplementation makes sense. 2000 units a day is not a very big dose. If one takes one's shirt off and goes in the sun for half an hour, your body will make 10,000 units. We do not find toxicity from vitamin D until people take hundreds of thousands of units for prolonged periods. I used to prescribe a multivitamin, but I no longer do so. This is because of evidence that multivitamins may actually have adverse affects on the growth of cancers - prostate cancer as well as breast cancer. You are much better off getting your vitamins from healthy food instead of pills, except for vitamin D. Eat a good healthy plant-based diet, lots of vegetables, some fruit. Look at the Breastcancer.org Nutrition section.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Living With Metastatic Breast Cancer featured Larry Norton, M.D. and moderator Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about managing day-to-day life with metastatic breast cancer.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in October 2007.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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