Science Update

New study demonstrates the benefit of tocotrienol supplementation in ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer is the 5th most common cancer in women and accounts for more deaths than any other female cancer. Although there has been progress in cancer management, recurrent ovarian cancer remains a challenge.

According to a new phase II clinical trial published last month in Pharmaological Research, researchers demonstrated the benefits of delta tocotrienol as an adjunctive treatment with chemotherapy in patients with recurrent ovarian cancer.

Annatto tocotrienols are tocopherol-free isomers of vitamin E that have been previously shown to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in chronic disease.

This study included 23 patients with endothelial, primary fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer, from March 2015 to January 2018. The patients received intravenous chemotherapy every three weeks as well as tocotrienol supplementation at 300 mg three times a day.

Efficacy was evaluated by chest and abdominal CT scans every three cycles in patients with measurable disease. The primary endpoint was the rate of disease control. Secondary endpoints included quality of life, safety, progression free survival, and overall survival. Quality of life was evaluated before the start of treatment, at the first response evaluation, and again at progression.

As a result, there was an additive effect of tocotrienol supplement to the chemotherapy treatment. Although it did not meet its primary endpoint of 75% disease control at six months, it had a disease control rate of 70%, which is very high. This is also true for a disease control rate of 50% at six months since single agent chemotherapy only reported a 25% disease control for more than 12 weeks. A previous study showed a similar rate of 31% disease control after six months of treatment.

This study is the first to demonstrate that tocotrienol supplementation in combination with chemotherapy is effective in multi-resistant ovarian cancer. Many patients with advanced recurrent ovarian cancer have a short life expectancy and their condition deteriorates rapidly with a progression free survival of 2 to 4 months and a median overall survival of 5 to 7 months. In this study, the progression free survival increased to 7.8 months and a median overall survival of 12 months.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Thomsen CB, Andersen RF, et al. Delta tocotrienol in recurrent ovarian cancer. A phase II trial. Pharmacol Res. 2019 Jan 9; 141:392-396.