The Co-Q10 - Cancer Connection

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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From The July 2001 Issue of Nutrition Science News

by Anthony Almada

Coenzyme Q10 (Co-Q10) is a powerful antioxidant that boosts the heart's ability to endure stress and supports mitochondria—cellular structures that produce energy from food. Recent research suggests that low Co-Q10 levels are linked to certain cancers. One U.S. study compared 27 women with normal Pap smears with 75 women with cervical cancer and its precursor—cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. Women with cervical cancer and neoplasia had lower concentrations of cervical/vaginal cell Co-Q10 and vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) compared to women with normal Pap smears. [1] In another study, 200 French women with malignant and nonmalignant breast tumors were found to have reduced amounts of Co-Q10 in the blood despite normal concentrations of vitamin E, another antioxidant. [2] A study of 21 Turkish women who underwent radical mastectomies for breast cancer found lower levels of Co-Q10 within the breast tumor compared to the normal surrounding tissue. Four of the women had no detectable amounts of Co-Q10 in the tumor or nearby tissue. [3] No placebo-controlled studies have validated the effectiveness of Co-Q10 alone in preventing or treating cancer. [4] But in light of a recent clinical study showing Co-Q10 supplementation protects immune cells from DNA damage, [5] this anti-oxidant merits further study.

Anthony Almada is a nutritional and exercise biochemist and has collaborated on more than 50 university-based clinical trials. He is the co-founder of EAS and founder and chief scientific officer of IMAGINutrition.


  1. Mikhail MS, et al. Coenzyme Q10 and a-tocopherol concentrations in cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and cervix cancer.
    Obstet Gynecol 2001;97: (Abstract)3S

  2. Jolliet P, et al. Plasma coenzyme Q10 concentrations in breast cancer: prognosis and therapeutic consequences.
    Fund Clin Pharmacol 1997;11: (Abstract)176

  3. Portakal O, et al. Coenzyme Q10 concentrations and antioxidant status in tissues of breast cancer patients.
    Clin Biochem 2000;33:279-84

  4. Lockwood K, et al. Partial and complete regression of breast cancer in patients in relation to dosage of coenzyme Q10.
    Biochem Biophys Res Commun 1994;199:504-8

  5. Tomasetti M, et al. In vivo supplementation with coenzyme Q10 enhances the recovery of human lymphocytes from oxidative DNA damage.
    FASEBJ 2001 Apr 6 (published online before print).

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