Coenzyme Q10 for Breast Cancer – Ubiquinone vs Ubiquinol
Further to my May 2014 article “How Coenzyme Q10 Benefits Breast Cancer”, I notice that I forgot to include the discussion about which form of Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is better to take – the old ubiquinone vs ubiquinol argument. My bad, I’m sorry. I got so excited about the new research on this supplement, I neglected this important bit of information.
CoQ10 has been a real topic of discussion this week, for some reason, so this seemed like a good time to share the information I neglected last time.
How CoQ10 Exists In the Body
CoQ10 exists in two separate forms in the human body, as ubiquinone (the oxidized form), or ubiquinol (the reduced form). Ubiquinone, when used by the body, transforms to become ubiquinol. Likewise, ubiquinol can convert to ubiquinone.
So does it matter which form we take? Yes it does. Read on.
A Brief Explanation Of How CoQ10 Works In The Body
In my previous article (link in first paragraph) I shared what a coenzyme is and how it works in the body. CoQ10 is used by every cell of the body, being involved with the production of cellular energy within the mitochondria of each cell. CoQ10 is found in higher concentrations in the heart, brain and kidneys.
CoQ10 is needed to convert energy from sugars and fats into usable cellular energy. CoQ10 acts as an electron acceptor or donor in the chain of reactions that leads to the production of energy. As mentioned above, when ubiquinone accepts an electron from another molecule, it becomes ubiquinol and when ubiquinol donates an electron, it becomes ubiquinone.
As we age, however, our bodies find it much more challenging to convert ubiquinone to ubiquinol. If you are older than about 25, you are much better off taking ubiquinol. More on that later.
CoQ10 is very important for many different facets of health, and I listed a few of the benefits in my last article, but here are the best 8 reasons to supplement with CoQ10 (in the form of ubiquinol) if you have or are recovering from breast cancer:
1. CoQ10 helps produce more energy for cells (meaning more energy for you);
2. CoQ10 helps to slow down the aging process;
3. Ubiquinol acts as a strong antioxidant;
4. Low levels of CoQ10 have been reported in patients with malignancies 1;
5. CoQ10 enhances the anti-tumor properties of certain chemotherapy drugs and has cardio-protective effects 2;
6. CoQ10 decreases inflammation in the body (and cancer is an inflammatory process) 3;
7. In animal studies done in the 1970s, CoQ10 acted to stimulate the immune system, increased antibody levels, and increased macrophages and T-cells 4;
8. In human studies, CoQ10 increased the CD4 to CD8 T-cell ratio. CD4 and CD8 are proteins found on the surface of T-cells (part of the immune system), these proteins assist in identifying helper T-cells and cytotoxic T-cells. Also, CD4 and CD8 are found to be depleted in cancer patients. 5
Ubiquinol Is Better Absorbed
While the body can convert ubiquinol to ubiquinone and vice versa, as mentioned above, our bodies are less able to do this conversion as we age. Scientific studies show that ubiquinol is absorbed up to 8 times greater than ubiquinone. That’s pretty significant. Also, increased levels of ubiquinol remain in the blood for much longer than ubiquinone. In animal studies measuring exercise fatigue in mice, ubiquinol was found to be 90% more effective than ubiquinone. 6
Purchasing CoQ10; Recommended Dosage
One of the problems with purchasing CoQ10 is that often the bottle does not tell you which form you are buying – ubiquinone or ubiquinol. The price will inform you – it is usually ubiquinone if it is cheaper. Ubiquinol is not ruinously expensive however. I do have two brands that I recommend far more frequently than others, due to their quality. Use this link for Jarrow Formulas. Use this link for Life Extension.
Dosage: 100 mg/day if you are well; 300 mg/day if you have active tumors present in your body
Please do not rely upon coenzyme Q10 alone for management of cancer. See your health care practitioner and include it as one part of a serious anti-cancer regimen.
1. Activities of vitamin Q10 in animal models and a serious deficiency in patients with cancer – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9177262
2. Enhanced antitumor efficacy and counterfeited cardiotoxicity of combinatorial oral therapy using Doxorubicin- and Coenzyme Q10-liquid crystalline nanoparticles in comparison with intravenous Adriamycin – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24637217
3. Coenzyme Q10 supplementation ameliorates inflammatory markers in patients with multiple sclerosis: a double blind, placebo, controlled randomized clinical trial – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24621064
4. Coenzymes Q: stimulants of the phagocytic activity in rats and immune response in mice – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/5478631
5. Increase in levels of IgG in serum of patients treated with coenzyme Q10 – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7163631
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My last article on Coenzyme Q10 was written in 2012, and at the time there was little definitive research available to say that it had great benefits for breast cancer, simply that we knew it had cardio-protective qualities for someone undergoing chemotherapy and it was of benefit to the immune system. See my article Coenzyme Q10 – Beneficial For Breast Cancer Or Not?
Having decided it was time to see if more research – something more definitive – had been carried out, I spent the day looking into the subject and I have indeed found some interesting new research for you.
How Coenzyme Q10 Works In The Body
The National Cancer Institute described it beautifully on their website: “A coenzyme helps an enzyme do its job. An enzyme is a protein that speeds up the rate at which natural chemical reactions take place in cells of the body. The body’s cells use CoQ10 to make energy needed for the cells to grow and stay healthy. The body also uses CoQ10 as an antioxidant. An antioxidant is a substance that protects cells from chemicals called free radicals. Free radicals can damage DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). Genes, which are pieces of DNA, tell the cells how to work in the body and when to grow and divide. Damage to DNA has been linked to some kinds of cancer. By protecting cells against free radicals, antioxidants help protect the body against cancer.“1
Coenzyme Q10 stimulates the heart muscles and it also stimulates the immune system in several different ways. Now here’s the research.
Coenzyme Q10 Enhances Anti-Tumor Effects of Common Chemotherapy Drugs
A 2014 study appearing in the journal Nanomedicine, titled Enhanced antitumor efficacy and counterfeited cardiotoxicity of combinatorial oral therapy using Doxorubicin- and Coenzyme Q10-liquid crystalline nanoparticles in comparison with intravenous Adriamycin, by Swarnakar NK, Thanki K, Jain S, indicates that Coenzyme Q10 enhanced the anti-tumor effects of the chemotherapy drug Doxorubicin. The study authors concluded that these combinations “pose great potential in improving the therapeutic efficacy of drugs by oral route of administration.” 2
Coenzyme Q10 Decreases Inflammatory Markers
A January 2014 study appearing in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience titled Coenzyme Q10 supplementation ameliorates inflammatory markers in patients with multiple sclerosis: a double blind, placebo, controlled randomized clinical trial by Sanoobar M, Eghtesadi S, Azimi A, Khalili M, Khodadadi B, Jazayeri S, Gohari MR, Aryaeian N, indicated that Coenzyme Q10 significantly decreased inflammatory markers in patients with multiple sclerosis. 3 I included this study because of the fact that breast cancer is an inflammatory process in the body and anything that can reduce the amount of inflammation in the body is extremely beneficial, not only for breast cancer but for many other diseases as well.
Coenzyme Q10 Instrumental In Tumor Regression
This information isn’t new, but it has just recently come into my hands via an old book I was rereading and I thought you might fight interesting. The book is “Antioxidants Against Cancer” by Ralph Moss and this is an excerpt: “In late 1993, Dr. Folkers arranged for the first clinical trial of CoQ10 at a clinic in Copenhagen, Denmark. Doctors treated 32 patients with advanced, ‘high risk’ breast cancer. In addition to appropriate surgery and conventional treatment, each patient was given 90 mg of CoQ10 per day. They also received other vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids. On this regimen, 6 of the 32 patients showed partial tumor regressions, significant in ‘advanced’ patients. Then in October 1993, a strange thing happened: one of these six women, on her own, increased her dosage from 90 to 390 mg per day. By the next month, her doctors wrote, ‘the tumor was no longer palpable’ and in the following month, a mammogram confirmed the disappearance of her tumor. After that, another woman in the group also increased her dose, this time to 300 mg. Her tumor also soon disappeared and a clinical examination revealed no evidence of the prior residual tumor, nor of distant metastases.”
The other vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that the patients were taking in the above study were:
1.2 grams of gamma linolenic acid
3.5 grams of Omega 3 fatty acids
58 mg (32,248 iu) betacarotene
2.8 grams vitamin C
2500 iu vitamin E
385 mcg selenium
390 mg CoQ10
I hope that researchers will continue their studies on Coenzyme Q10, because it shows some very promising benefits for breast and other cancers.
If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right, and/or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com). It is my honor and my goal to help you through this so that you emerge from breast cancer feeling better than before, thriving!
Is Coenzyme Q10 Beneficial for Breast Cancer or Not?
Back in 1996 when my mother was going through breast cancer that had moved into her bones, I encouraged her to see a naturopath. I knew that she needed additional nutritional support – my father had just passed away and I knew she wasn’t eating as well as she could be.
The naturopath made a big list of vitamins she should take, among them was Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). Though I had been studying naturopathy myself at the time, I hadn’t learned about CoQ10 yet.
He said that preliminary studies had indicated CoQ10 had cardioprotective properties for breast cancer patients and that it helped the immune system. His concern for my mother was that CoQ10 helped to protect the hearts of study animals that were given the anticancer drug doxorubicin (Adriamycin) which can cause damage to the heart muscle. It turned out that she was given another chemotherapy drug, but that’s another topic for another day.
What Exactly is CoQ10?
CoQ10 is a compound that is made naturally in the body, however it has been found to be lacking in those whose immune function is under attack, typically cancer patients and HIV/AIDS patients, and also the elderly because as we age, our bodies appear to make less CoQ10.
A coenzyme helps an enzyme do its job. An enzyme is a protein that speeds up the rate at which natural chemical reactions take place in cells of the body. The body’s cells use CoQ10 to make energy needed for the cells to grow and stay healthy. The body also uses CoQ10 as an antioxidant. An antioxidant is a substance that protects cells from chemicals called free radicals. Free radicals can damage DNA. I apologize if I got too basic there, but I wanted everyone to understand the importance of this nutrient.
I was interested and wondered since CoQ10 occurs naturally in the body, what is the supplement made from? Further research found that it is made using fermentation with special strains of yeast.
Does It Actually Work?
The problem is the studies have thus far been too small to show definitive answers. Animal studies found that CoQ10 boosts the immune system and helps the body fight certain infections and types of cancer, however, there have been no well-designed clinical trials involving large numbers of patients to study the use of CoQ10 in cancer treatment.
There have been some clinical trials with small numbers of people, but the way the studies were done and the amount of information reported made it unclear whether benefits were caused by CoQ10 or by something else.
The Studies on CoQ10 and Cardioprotection
Recent studies on CoQ10’s cardioprotective properties during administration of the chemo drug doxorubicin (Adriamycin) have been conflicting, which surprised the heck out of me.
One very recent study (April 2012) concluded that although CoQ10 does not alter the ability of doxorubicin to prevent the growth of cancer cells (good news), further studies would be “reassuring before a large-scale clinical testing of CoQ10 [could be recommended] as a cardioprotective drug” (Lack of Effect of Coenzyme Q10 on Doxorubicin Cytotoxicity in Breast Cancer Cell Cultures, Greenlee H, Shaw J, Lau YK, Naini A, Maurer M, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA).
The Good News
Despite the lack of scientific studies and actual PROOF positive that CoQ10 can be of assistance to cancer patients (and why would “big pharma” spend the money on such studies when CoQ10 is easily obtainable from any health food store), what we DO know about CoQ10 makes me a believer that it should be included in our daily arsenal against disease and most natural therapists I’ve consulted agree.
The good benefits of CoQ10 (the things we do know) are:
CoQ10 is required for your cells to produce energy, and is an integral part of helping cells take fat and other substances and convert them into usable energy
CoQ10 can help protect your body from free radical damage
CoQ10 offers powerful antioxidant protection
CoQ10 can boost your heart health
CoQ10 can help you reduce the signs of normal aging
CoQ10 supports your nervous system (which takes a beating during chemotherapy)
I take CoQ10 daily for my health regimen and I feel good about doing so (despite the lack of scientific research!). I know it’s working and doing its job. If you need a good, reputable source for CoQ10, contact me.
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About Marnie Clark
Hi I'm Marnie Clark, breast cancer survivor, and breast cancer coach. I have 20+ years of experience in natural medicine. In 2004/05 I battled breast cancer myself. You can see more about my journey on my page Breast Cancer Diary.
I've been healthy and recurrence-free since 2004 and in 2012 I became a Breast Cancer Coach because I became aware of the fact that whilst there is now a wealth of information on the Internet, much of it is confusing, conflicting, and sometimes just wrong!
Why should you work with me? Because:
(1) You don't want to go through this journey alone, feeling unempowered, frightened or just plain
clueless about what to do to help yourself.
(2) You will have someone working tirelessly on your behalf, putting together a healing plan for
you so you don’t have to lose your precious energy researching what food you should eat,
what supplements you should take, and what other things you can do that will give you the
best chances for survival. Instead you can spend that time resting, meditating, healing.
(3) You will learn what questions to ask your doctor (and have someone to turn to for the
questions they can't or won't answer).
(4) You will be armed with the tools and strategies you will need to get through the therapies you
choose so you can make your body hostile terrain for cancer.
You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.