Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10 or ubiquinone) has been shown in some studies to be possibly helpful in the prevention and treatment of various types of cancer.
However, most of these are done on cancer tissues in a lab setting or in small animal studies.
But some women are wondering if it is really effective in the prevention and treatment of breast cancer.
Before you consider taking CoQ10 specifically to help reduce your cancer risk, it would be a good idea to look at some of the research studies.
It's one thing to believe that it might work, but it's another thing to actually see some scientific proof of this particular benefit of CoQ10 in fighting off breast cancer. Let's see...
A published paper in 1994 reported that two "high risk" patients with breast cancer given a high dose of CoQ10 (300 to 390 mg) resulted in their tumour completely disappearing in less than three months.
This created great hope for many women around the world who suffer from breast cancer.
Here's the reference to this paper:
Let's look at how this study was done. Thirty-two women diagnosed with "high risk" breast cancer were given a supplement containing antioxidants, CoQ10 and fatty acids. The results were that six out of the thirty-two women showed that their breast cancer regressed.
In one female, the researchers decided to increase the dose of CoQ10 up to 390 mg. Within two months, the remaining tumour (that was not completely removed from the initial surgery) was confirmed to be completely gone.
Because the researchers were very pleased with this initial finding, they also decided to increase the CoQ10 to 300 mg for another woman. In three months, she also has no evidence of the remaining tumour.
Before we jump to the wrong conclusion, a study like this designed without a control group (placebo or "sugar pill" group) does not tell us if the tumour regression was due to taking the antioxidant supplement or just post-surgery recovery plus conventional anti-cancer therapy.
Although very encouraging, it is impossible to tell if this was due to the successful treatment of the tumour by itself or just from taking the CoQ10 supplement.
As we know, many women are successfully treated for breast cancer and any remaining small tumour that was not fully removed is known to disappear with continued conventional therapy.
Exactly how CoQ10 helps to stop cancer cells from growing is still being debated by experts. CoQ10 is known to be involved in the regulation of our immune system.
Let's look at the studies done in humans that compared CoQ10 levels with breast cancer risks.
Here's the reference to this first study.
In this study completed in the University of Hawaii, the researchers found an inverse relationship between CoQ10 blood levels and breast cancer cases. They measured the blood CoQ10 levels of 340 women with breast cancer and 653 women who did not have cancer.
However, this relationship appears to hold true mostly in women who had exceptionally low levels of blood CoQ10 levels.
So should we suggest CoQ10 supplements for those women with low CoQ10 levels? Perhaps taking high doses of CoQ10 would be the answer! Hold on a minute. Let's look at another study.
In the study, shown below, a high coenzyme Q10 blood level in postmenopausal women is linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer!
So it would appear that both low and high CoQ10 levels are related to increased breast cancer risks. Although it is really difficult to draw any conclusive data, we can postulate that the body requires an optimum level of CoQ10.
The belief that more of a "good" thing is better can never be assumed to be true. Hope may not be all lost though. There is some "weak" evidence that CoQ10 combined with other antioxidant supplements could help extend survival time for cancer patients.
In this study completed in Denmark, researchers showed that patients with fatal (end-stage) cancer seem to live longer than expected with a combination supplement. They were given a daily CoQ10 supplement along with a mix of other antioxidants, namely beta-carotene, folic acid, vitamin C and selenium.
However, the study is small involving only 41 patients. Moreover, the study didn't use a control group and their estimated survival times were only an educated calculation. Moreover, it is impossible to tell whether the benefits came from just the CoQ10 or the mixture of antioxidants.
These positive results from these preliminary studies will encourage researchers to carry on much larger and better designed studies to find out the truth about the benefits of CoQ10 in the battle against breast cancer.
Thinking of taking CoQ10 for breast cancer prevention or treatment?
CoQ10 supplement could be considered a good adjuvant to, and not a substitute for, conventional cancer therapy as it is shown to protect the heart against the damaging effects of chemotherapy.
Lab, animal and small clinical studies show that low levels of CoQ10 seem to be linked to a higher risk of developing cancer.
This is believed to be due to CoQ10 ability to regulate the immune system and its antioxidant effects.
None of the research discussed above directly and clearly answers the question, "Does taking CoQ10 for breast cancer help?"
These studies do not show if the benefit of taking CoQ10 for cancer was just from the coenzyme Q10 itself or from the combination of Q10 along with other antioxidants.
The one conclusion that we could draw is that maintaining an optimum blood CoQ10 is probably the best action to take.
If possible, get your CoQ10 blood level measured. If CoQ10 serum measurements is not possible or pratical, a lower dose of 100 mg daily could be a good starting point (See CoQ10 Dosage to get ideas of the various dosage used for other health conditions).
Higher doses can be taken after discussion this with your health care provider.
So what is one left to do in our fight against breast cancer or any type of cancer in general?
See the revealing article Natural Supplements for Breast Cancer to get the complete list of remedies to consider.
If there's one thing you can do to cut your risk of cancer down, follow a healthy diet is high in fruits and vegetables. See Cancer Diet for a list of food choices that you should consider.
Moreover, CoQ10 is just one of many natural supplements for cancer that you may consider taking. Check them all out first before deciding on one or more of them.
And, needless to say, early detection of breast cancer dramatically increases cure rate and survival time so regular screening is essential.
Revised: May 27, 2013