Written by Mario Rottorf, Helen Cooke and the CAM-Cancer Consortium.
Updated June 21, 2016

Coenzyme Q10

Does it work?

Adjuvant therapy

Controlled clinical studies

A two-arm, non-randomised trial compared the effects of CoQ10 (400mg/d, oral) on the recurrence rate in melanoma patients (n=81) who received three years of adjuvant therapy with recombinant IFNα-2b and CoQ10 versus no adjuvant therapy 30. In the CoQ10 treatment group, the recurrence rate was significantly lower after 5 years of follow-up. The quality of the data was not good, however, and there is a great risk of bias due to the lack of randomisation and the small patient sample.

Does CoQ10 work as a protector against adverse effects of chemotherapeutic agents?

Reviews

A systematic review analysed the issue of whether oral administration of CoQ10 improved the tolerability of chemotherapy and reduced adverse events and toxicity 31. The review examined five controlled interventional studies in which patients with different malignant haematological systemic diseases or solid tumours were given CoQ10 at doses of 90-240mg/d concomitantly with anthracycline chemotherapy. Three of the five studies reported positive effects on surrogate parameters of cardiac function. The authors of the review regarded this as potential evidence of CoQ10 reducing the cardiotoxicity of anthracycline chemotherapeutic agents. However, they also determined the risk of bias in the studies to be very high, thus greatly limiting the strength of the findings.

Controlled clinical trials

A two-arm, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study examined the effect of CoQ10 on chronic fatigue and health-related quality of life in 236 breast cancer patients 4. The intervention group received oral CoQ10 (300mg/d) for 24 weeks. There was no difference between the CoQ10 and placebo groups with regard to fatigue and quality of life. The risk of bias here is seen as low.

The aforementioned two-arm non-randomised trial in melanoma patients had as secondary endpoints the effects of CoQ10 on adverse effects of interferon (IFNα-2b). 30 The subjective rating by the treatment group (IFNα-2b + CoQ10) stated that there was a significant difference in the rate of adverse effects (such as fatigue or weakness), which occurred not at all or only in a mild form in comparison with the non-treatment group. Since the study was not blinded, there is a high risk of bias in these findings.

Citation

Mario Rottorf, Helen Cooke, CAM-Cancer Consortium. Coenzyme Q10 [online document]. http://www.cam-cancer.org/The-Summaries/Dietary-approaches/Coenzyme-Q10. June 21, 2016.

Document history

Revised in September 2016 by Mario Rottorf and Helen Cooke
Assessed as up to date in April 2014 by Barbara Wider.
Revised and updated in December 2012 by Helen Cooke.
Fully revised and updated in September 2011 by Helen Cooke.
Fully revised and updated in August 2009 by Helen Cooke.
First published in 2005, authored by Helen Seers and Helen Cooke.

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