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Use of Magnesium Supplements during Platinum Chemotherapy

Jan 29, 2020


Platinum chemotherapy drugs including Cisplatin and Carboplatin, although effective cancer drugs, are also known to cause severe side-effects, one of them being a drastic depletion in the levels of the essential mineral Magnesium in the body, that leads to kidney injury. Clinical studies have reported that Magnesium supplement use along with Platinum therapy is helpful in countering the depletion and reducing the chemotherapy side-effects of kidney toxicity in cancer.

Platinum therapy with drugs like Cisplatin and Carboplatin are part of the cancer-fighting tool kit for many cancers including ovarian, cervical, lung, bladder, testicular, head and neck cancer and many others. Cisplatin was the first platinum drug approved as a cancer treatment in 1978 and is used individually and in combination with other chemotherapy drugs. These drugs are able to eliminate rapidly growing cancer cells through inducing excessive oxidative stress and DNA damage, that hinders their replication and growth. However, the DNA damage caused by these platinum drugs also impacts the other normal cells of the body and hence these drugs are associated with collateral damage leading to severe and undesirable side-effects.

Magnesium Supplement Use for Chemotherapy Side-effects

One of the side-effects associated with Cisplatin or Carboplatin platinum therapy is a severe depletion in the levels of the essential mineral Magnesium (Mg) in the body, leading to hypomagnesemia (Lajer H et al, British J Cancer, 2003). This condition is linked to the cisplatin or carboplatin-induced kidney damage. Hypomagnesemia can be associated with a number of potentially life-threatening cardiovascular, neurological or behavioral manifestations that a growing number of cancer survivors are dealing with, much after completion of their chemotherapy regimens and being in remission (Velimirovic M. et al, Hosp. Pract. (1995), 2017).

A study from MD Anderson Cancer Center, USA, analyzed the association of magnesium abnormalities and hypomagnesemia in ovarian cancer patients treated with carboplatin. They analyzed the vital sign and laboratory test records of 229 advanced stage ovarian cancer patients who had undergone surgery and carboplatin chemotherapy treatment between January 2004 to December 2014 (Liu W et al, Oncologist, 2019). They found that frequent occurrence of hypomagnesemia in patients during the carboplatin therapy was strongly predictive of shorter overall survival. This was independent of completeness of tumor reduction in these advanced ovarian cancer patients.

Magnesium Supplements Use during Platinum Chemotherapy

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Use of Magnesium supplements during Platinum therapy in cancer was evaluated in clinical studies and has shown benefit. In a parallel-randomized controlled, open-label clinical trial done at the Iran University of Medical Science in Tehran, oral magnesium oxide supplementation to Cisplatin therapy in 62 adult patients with newly-diagnosed non-leukemia cancers was assessed. There were 31 patients in the intervention group who were given Mg supplementation along with Cisplatin and 31 in the control group without supplementation. They did find that the decrease in Mg levels in the control group was much more significant. Hypomagnesemia was seen in only 10.7% of the intervention group vs. 23.1% in the control group (Zarif Yeganeh M et al, Iran J Public Health, 2016). Another study by a Japanese group also confirmed that pre-loading with Mg supplementation prior to Cisplatin therapy greatly reduced Cisplatin induced kidney toxicity (14.2 versus 39.7%) in patients with thoracic cancers. (Yoshida T. et al, Japanese J Clin Oncol, 2014).

Cancer if untreated can be fatal, and chemotherapy options despite their various issues and challenges with severe side-effects, have to be used to control the disease. Therefore, along with strategies to mitigate the risks of chemotherapy side-effects, like supplementing with Mg prior to and during platinum therapy, cancer patients can also eat foods that are rich in Magnesium such as Pumpkin seeds, almonds, oatmeal, tofu, spinach, banana, avocado, dark chocolate and others to further supplement the depleted nutrients and minerals with natural sources, that are more easily absorbed by the body. An integrative approach of combining chemotherapy treatments along with compatible and scientifically matched supplements, minerals, and vitamins, along with a healthy diet, is needed to improve the odds of success for cancer patients!

Cancer patients often have to deal with different chemotherapy side effects which affect their quality of life and look out for alternative therapies for cancer. Taking the right nutrition and supplements based on scientific considerations (avoiding guesswork and random selection) is the best natural remedy for cancer and treatment related side-effects.