The benefits and risks of supplementation with antioxidants during cancer therapy have been a controversial area. Few studies have systematically evaluated dietary intake of antioxidants with toxicity and survival in childhood cancer. We sought to determine the role of dietary intake of antioxidants on rates of infections, mucositis, relapse, and disease-free survival during induction and postinduction phases of therapy among children and adolescents with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
PATIENTS AND METHODS
We enrolled 794 children in a prospective clinical trial for treatment of ALL. Dietary intake was prospectively evaluated by a food frequency questionnaire. The association between dietary intake of antioxidants and treatment-related toxicities and survival were evaluated with the Benjamini-Hochberg false discovery rate (q) and logistic regression and the Kaplan-Meier method, respectively.
Dietary surveys were available for analysis from 614 (77%), and 561 (71%) participants at diagnosis and at end of induction, respectively. Of 513 participants who completed the dietary surveys at both time points, 120 (23%) and 87 (16%) experienced a bacterial infection and 22 (4%) and 55 (10%) experienced mucositis during the induction or postinduction phases of treatment, respectively. Increased intake of dietary antioxidants was associated with significantly lower rates of infection and mucositis. No association with relapse or disease-free survival was observed. Supplementation was not associated with toxicity, relapse, or survival.
Consumption of antioxidants through dietary intake was associated with reduced rates of infection or mucositis, with no increased risk of relapse or reduced survival. Dietary counseling on a well-balanced diet that includes an array of antioxidants from food sources alone may confer a benefit from infections and mucositis during treatment of childhood ALL.