DNC News


Ovarian Cancer: a short review of current publications of interest:


Subject: references for using Vitamin D, Quercetin, Ginseng, Milk thistle, selenium and progesterone for treating ovarian cancer.


Cisplatin and the other platinum chemotherapy drugs are the most common choice in treating ovarian cancer, thus my particular focus on what will increase effect of this drug.


  1. Vitamin D : Vitamin D (1.25 dihydroxycholecalcifero) and its analogue 1,25-dihydroxy-16-ene-23-yne-cholecalciferol (Ro23-7553) (pronounce that one!) have significant antitumor effect. Pretreatment with the vitamin D analogue, Ro23-7553 markedly enhanced cisplatin's tumor cell kill, even at low doses of cisplatin as compared to cisplatin treatment alone. [1]
  2. Quercetin : Quercetin has an antiproliferative effect on ovarian cancer cells, inhibiting their growth. [2] Other bioflavinoids, hesperidin and rutin have no effect. Quercetin increases cisplatin's effect: “The combination of the two drugs resulted in a synergistic antiproliferative activity.” [3]
  3. Ginseng extracts given orally to mice with ovarian cancer significantly increased the effect of cisplatin at killing the tumor cells. Ginseng allowed lowering the dose of cisplatin to a point where side effects were not detectable while achieving similar tumor killing activity. [4]
  4. Milk thistle (silybin) extracts inhibit growth of ovarian cancer cells and prevent angiogenesis: [5] When given with cisplatin they increase the drug's effectiveness at killing the tumor cells: “Administration of both drugs resulted in a protentiation of the antitumor activity….” [6] A similar effect is seen when given with doxorubicin (Adriamycin). [7]
  5. Antioxidants : Many MDs advise their patients not to take any antioxidant vitamins or herbs during chemotherapy. There is little published evidence to support this advice. On the other hand, there is considerable evidence that these substances are beneficial. A recent case study of two women with ovarian cancer taking a number of different antioxidant vitamins (oral vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, coenzyme Q-10 and a multivitamin/mineral complex. lus one patient added parenteral ascorbic acid, 60 grams twice per week) reporting significant benefit: “…..Antioxidants, when added adjunctively, to first-line chemotherapy, may improve the efficacy of chemotherapy and may prove to be safe. …….. Because of the positive results found in these two patients, a randomized controlled trial is now underway at the University of Kansas Medical Center evaluating safety and efficacy of antioxidants when added to chemotherapy in newly diagnosed ovarian cancer.” [8]
  6. Vitamin K-3 and Vitamin C : In a 1/100 combination these vitamins cause ovarian cancer cells to self destruct. [9] Studies with other cancer types, suggest this vitamin combination may make cancer cells more sensitive to chemotherapy treatment.
  7. Selenium : Administering selenium with cisplatin did not increase the anti tumor effect of cisplatin but did decrease the side effects; “The co-administration of selenium together with cisplatin……. did not affect the anti-tumour activity of CDDP (cisplatin) but it did cause a decrease of parameters of host toxicity including lethality, increasing the 50% lethal dose (LD50) from 9.3 mg kg-1 to 17.5 mg kg-1. The parameters of host toxicity which were altered by selenium co-administration were nephrotoxicity, myeloid suppression and weight loss.” [10]
  8. Hormones --- Progesterone: Although epidemiological evidence suggests some link between ovarian cancer and hormone replacement therapy, current publications suggest that estrogen may be the promoting agent and that progesterone may be protective: “pregnancy-equivalent levels progesterone are highly effective as apoptosis inducers for OSE and OCa (ovarian cancer) cells. ” [11]



[1] Cancer Res. 1997 Sep 1;57(17):3759-64. Potentiation of cisplatin antitumor activity using a vitamin D analogue in a murine squamous cell carcinoma model system.Light BW, Yu WD, McElwain MC, Russell DM, Trump DL, Johnson CS.

[2] Br J Cancer. 1990 Dec;62(6):942-6.

Inhibitory effect of quercetin on OVCA 433 cells and presence of type II oestrogen binding sites in primary ovarian tumours and cultured cells. Scambia G, Ranelletti FO, Panici PB, Piantelli M, Bonanno G, De Vincenzo R, Ferrandina G, Rumi C, Larocca LM, Mancuso S.

[3] Anticancer Drugs. 1990 Oct;1(1):45-8. Synergistic antiproliferative activity of quercetin and cisplatin on ovarian cancer cell growth.

Scambia G, Ranelletti FO, Benedetti Panici P, Bonanno G, De Vincenzo R, Piantelli M, Mancuso S.

[4] Jpn J Cancer Res. 1998 Jul;89(7):733-40

Inhibitory effects of ginsenoside Rh2 on tumor growth in nude mice bearing human ovarian cancer cells.

Nakata H, Kikuchi Y, Tode T, Hirata J, Kita T, Ishii K, Kudoh K, Nagata I, Shinomiya N.

[5] Eur J Cancer. 2003 Nov;39(16):2403-10.

Antitumour activity of the silybin-phosphatidylcholine complex, IdB 1016, against human ovarian cancer.

[6] Life Sci. 2002 Feb 8;70(12):1447-59. Silybin and its bioavailable phospholipid complex (IdB 1016) potentiate in vitro and in vivo the activity of cisplatin.

Giacomelli S, Gallo D, Apollonio P, Ferlini C, Distefano M, Morazzoni P, Riva A, Bombardelli E, Mancuso S, Scambia G.

[7] Eur J Cancer. 1996 May;32A(5):877-82 Antiproliferative effect of silybin on gynaecological malignancies: synergism with cisplatin and doxorubicin.Scambia G, De Vincenzo R, Ranelletti FO, Panici PB, Ferrandina G, D'Agostino G, Fattorossi A, Bombardelli E, Mancuso S.

[8] J Am Coll Nutr. 2003 Apr;22(2):118-23 The use of antioxidants with first-line chemotherapy in two cases of ovarian cancer. Drisko JA, Chapman J, Hunter VJ.

[9] Anticancer Res. 2003 Jul-Aug;23(4):3279-87.   

The in vitro antitumor activity of vitamins C and K3 against ovarian carcinoma.

von Gruenigen VE, Jamison JM, Gilloteaux J, Lorimer HE, Summers M, Pollard RR, Gwin CA, Summers JL.

[10] Br J Cancer. 1988 Jul;58(1):38-41 The effects of co-administration of selenium and cis-platin (CDDP) on CDDP-induced toxicity and antitumour activity.

Ohkawa K, Tsukada Y, Dohzono H, Koike K, Terashima Y.

[11] Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2003 Oct 7;1(1):73.

Estrogen, Progesterone and Epithelial Ovarian Cancer.

Ho SM.


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