CO-Q10 and Cancer

Why CoQ10 is an important supplement for cancer patients.

What if I told you that there is an important link between CoQ10 and Cancer? No one wants to hear that some chemo therapy drugs can cause heart weakness and or heart disease that can show up years after treatment. CoQ10 is a very important supplement whose magic can play a major role in heart protection.

What is it?

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is produced by the human body and is necessary for the basic functioning of cells. CoQ10 levels are reported to decrease with age and to be low in patients with some chronic diseases such as heart conditions, muscular dystrophies, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS. Some prescription drugs may also lower CoQ10 levels. [1]  It is my opinion that certain chemo therapy drugs lower CoQ10 levels drastically thereby opening the door to long term heart weakness.

Our Story

Getting chemo through I.V.

Emily had to take a chemotherapy drug named Doxorubicin. It is medically known that this chemotherapy drug can cause heart damage, and because of this side effect, Emily gets heart tests done every third dose. Even years after treatment heart disease can show up as a result of this drug.

The American Cancer Society states that “heart disease can be a serious late effect of certain cancer treatments. The actual damage to the heart may occur during treatment, but the effects may not show up until many years, or even decades later.

A class of chemo drugs called anthracyclines, which are used to treat many childhood cancers, can damage the heart muscle or affect its rhythm. The amount of damage is related to the total dose of the drug given and the child’s age at the time of treatment. Doctors try to limit the doses of these drugs as much as possible while still giving high enough doses to treat the cancer effectively. Studies are now being done to see if certain drugs shown to help protect the heart in adults getting anthracyclines can also help children.”

Anthracyclines are used to treat various cancers and as of 2012 were among the most commonly used chemotherapeutic agents.[1] Doxorubicin and its derivative, epirubicin, are used in breast cancer, childhood solid tumors, soft tissue sarcomas, and aggressive lymphomas. Daunorubicin is used to treat acute lymphoblastic or myeloblastic leukemias, and its derivative, idarubicin is used in multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas, and breast cancer. Other anthracycline derivates include nemorubicin, used for treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma, pixantrone, used as a second-line treatment of non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas, sabarubicin, used for non-small cell lung cancer, hormone refractory metastatic prostate cancer, and platinum- or taxane-resistant ovarian cancer, and valrubicin, which is used for the topical treatment of bladder cancer.[2]

Our Story Continued

During Emily’s treatment, a local newspaper covered a story of a female leukemia survivor that was graduating from High School and was hospitalized due to treatment-caused-heart-disease. It was this news story that caught my attention and scared me. Plus the fact that Emily’s heart was being closely monitored. Between those two things, I was definitely scared and decided to research protective action. There is no way insurance companies are going to pay for heart sonograms every third dose unless there is a proven clinical danger. All of these, the story, sonograms and heart disease fear, coincided into red flags that required immediate attention and research.

I wanted to find something natural to help protect Emily that was proven to be effective and studied by doctors. During my search I found approximately sixteen thousand medical papers written on C0-Q10 in the medical libraries. I also found out that many heart doctors take this supplement. CoQ10 has been studied extensively under many different circumstances, i.e., heart, cancer, fatigue, dialysis, palsy, to name a few. Most studies have found favorable responses for the use of CoQ10. The more I searched the more impressed I became.

Study Excerpts

I did this research and took the information to our oncologist and received approval for Emily to be able to take a standard dose (100 mg) of CoQ10 on a daily basis during treatment.

These  same study excerpts are here for you to use for consultation with your medical team, just print this out and bring to your medical doctor for consultation, or forward a link via email so that the medical staff can read the actual studies linked on this page.

❧ This pilot study accords with published data suggesting that CoQ10 therapy improves cardiac functional status in


C0Q10 a heart friendly supplement. C0Q10 a heart friendly supplement.


severe dilated cardiomyopathy (a disease of the heart muscle that causes it to lose its pumping strength) receiving maximal non beta-blocker therapy. Future multi-centre studies with larger numbers are indicated. [1]

❧  CONCLUSIONS: This pilot study accords with published data suggesting that CoQ10 therapy improves cardiac functional status in patients with moderately severe dilated cardiomyopathy receiving maximal non beta-blocker therapy. Future multicentre studies with larger numbers are indicated. [2]

❧ Decreased plasma levels of coenzyme Q10 have been observed in individuals with diabetes, cancer, and congestive heart failure. [2.]

❧ Although not all research is in agreement, the general consensus is that slightly better absorption is achieved with oil-based forms of CoQ10 [Weis et al., 1994; Lyon et al., 2001].

❧ Intestinal absorption is 3-fold faster if CoQ10 is administrated with food intake [Ochiai et al., 2007].

Broader Studies

❧ Coenzyme Q10 is a vitamin like substance that is present in the cells of all mammals and plays an important role in the cells energy-producing mitochondria (the part in the cell responsible for energy production and also a small amount of DNA). It is a potent antioxidant and its declining tissue concentration may contribute to the aging process and to the progress of degenerative diseases. Because the heart has very high metabolic activity, it requires large amounts of CoQ10. In Japan, CoQ10 is routinely used as a treatment in cardiac care, particularly for congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy. In studies done in Europe, CoQ10 has been used to successfully reduce chemotherapy induced heart damage. More recently, it has been studied as a significant part of cancer treatment, as an antioxidant agent that may affect tumor growth in cancer patients.

At the Comprehensive Cancer Care Conference, Dr. Richard Willis of the University of Texas reported on work done by himself and by Dr. Carl Folkers, among others. In one remarkable uncontrolled clinical study, done in Denmark, 32 node-positive breast cancer patients were treated with conventional therapy and with 90 mg per day of CoQ10 plus other supplements. All these patients survived at least 24 months, a period of time in which it was expected that 6 would die. Partial tumor regression was observed in 6 patients. Two of these people were later given 300 to 400 mg of CoQ10 a day, and complete remissions followed. Several more studies on individual patients were done using similarly high doses of CoQ10, with similar results.

These results may be due partly to the antioxidant effect of CoQ10, or perhaps an immune-enhancing effect to which recent research points. There is no evidence to indicate CoQ10 interferes with conventional treatment; indeed, it has been successfully used to mitigate the cardiotoxicity of chemotherapy. No toxicity has been observed using CoQ10 itself, even at very high doses. [Added emphasis.]

As Dr. Willis said, the data are promising, and the investigation continues, but only case studies have been published. Randomized clinical trials have not been completed. The evidence available is strong enough so that some clinicians and many patients are using CoQ10 as an adjunctive therapy. We recommend it as well.

From the book Comprehensive Cancer Care by Dr. James Gordon and Sharon Curtin. This book is available through As an aside, Comprehensive Cancer Care is the BEST cancer book on the market and I use it all the time. Every cancer patient should own this book!

Side Effects or Allergic Reacti0ns

Searching for references of toxicity I could not find any studies citing known toxicities with this supplement. One article gave allergic reactions and cited elevated liver enzymes but no medical references were cited, which I found suspect. Otherwise the vast majority of medical articles/studies are in favor of CoQ10 supplementation and its benefits.


First, I got permission from our doctor using medical articles like the ones listed and recommended on this page. I did use the Comprehensive Cancer Care book as their section on COQ10 (as reprinted on this page) is very compelling.

Here are my basic-common-sense-rules when trying a new supplement with Emily.  I purchased the lowest dose available, which was 30 mgs. This was given with food and without any other supplements to see if there would be any reaction. After repeated doses with no reaction we felt it was safe to go up to the recommended 100mg dose. But first this was done with the same procedure as listed above. When no reaction happened we then continued her regular supplement routine with CO-Q10 added to her daily regimen.

Doctor Approval

Please understand there are literally hundreds of cancers and numerous chemotherapy drugs. Most patients end up having to take other medications on top of their chemotherapy, to alleviate other symptoms of treatment. The result is an unlimited combination of drug regimens. This is why anyone wanting to add supplements to their daily routine must coordinate with their doctor.

Lastly, after medical approval Emily continued taking 100 mgs of  C0-Q10 daily throughout treatment and for years after treatment. There were no side effects or problems associated with it and seven years later her heart is normal with no visible damage or abnormalities from Doxorubicin. Maybe taking this supplement for so long prevented any possible damage. To us, this was a worthwhile investment!



  1. Heart Lung Circ. 2003;12(3):135-41. Randomised double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of coenzyme Q, therapy in class II and III systolic heart failure. Keogh A, Fenton S, Leslie C, Aboyoun C, Macdonald P, Zhao YC, Bailey M, Rosenfeldt F. Heart Failure Unit, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, Australia.
  2. Mol Syndromol. 2014 Jul; 5(3-4): 187–197.Published online 2014 Mar 13. doi:  10.1159/000360101
    PMCID: PMC4112525 Coenzyme Q10 Therapy

Heart drawing courtesy of


Copyright © 2018 Deb Witter