Life Extension Spring Clearance Sale

Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine October 2005

Coenzyme Q10 New Applications for Cancer Therapy

By Christie Yerby, ND

Importance of Diet and Nutrition

In 2004, breast cancer accounted for about 30% of all newly diagnosed cancer cases in US women and was the second leading cause of cancer death, surpassed only by lung cancer.27 Diet may contribute to 30-50% of these newly diagnosed cases.27 Very little CoQ10 is derived from the standard American diet, so attention to nutrient-rich food is important for cancer prevention. Foods that contain the most CoQ10 include oily fish such as sardines and mackerel, liver, peanuts, and whole grains. A well-balanced diet may provide adequate amounts of CoQ10 for an already healthy person, but those with depleted levels or chronic illness may require supplemental CoQ10.

CoQ10 is synthesized in the body from the amino acids tyrosine and phenylalanine, in a multi-step cascade of events that requires several vitamins, including vitamin C, vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6, and B12, and folic acid. Vitamin B6 is the first cofactor required for this conversion process, as B6 deficiencies cause dysfunctions in CoQ10 formation.28 Data on cancer patients’ blood levels have shown deficiencies of both CoQ10 and vitamin B6.28

Red meat supplies an abundance of B vitamins, but since meat consumption may be associated with an increased risk for some cancers,29 supplementing with a good multi-vitamin and vitamin B complex is important for CoQ10 synthesis in those who choose to avoid eating red meat.

CoQ10 not only has been shown to have anti-cancer properties, but also appears to boost immune health.15,16,30 In one study, administration of CoQ10 and vitamin B6 together and separately boosted blood levels of both CoQ10 and CD4 T lymphocytes (helper T-cells), a type of disease-fighting immune system cell.31 Blood levels of immunoglobulin G increased when CoQ10 and vitamin B6 were administered together and when CoQ10 was given alone.31

Because of its potential as an immune system stimulant, CoQ10 has been used as an adjuvant therapy in patients with various types of cancer. With new research findings demonstrating that it is able to restore susceptibility to apoptosis in cancer cells, CoQ10 may be of critical importance in an integrated cancer treatment protocol.

Help for Other Cancers

In recent studies, University of Miami researchers examined breast and prostate cells, but other studies suggest that CoQ10 may also inhibit cervical cancer cells,32 illustrating how its antioxidant and other effects may be valuable in fighting other cancers.

During their presentation at a recent meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Anaheim, CA, the Miami team showed that adding CoQ10 to the most common prostate cancer cell line, PC3, inhibited cell growth by 70% over 48 hours. Similarly, they found that CoQ10 greatly inhibited the growth of breast cancer cells, while providing a stabilizing effect to normal mammary cells.1

The University of Miami scientists are now focusing on applications of CoQ10 for skin cancer. “We are studying CoQ10 with skin cancer, given that our interests are dermatologic in nature,” says Narain. “But certainly there will be expansion into studies that target other organs as well.”

“We are in the process of developing an IV delivery system for other organs,” adds Indushekhar Persaud, chief bioengineer for drug delivery therapeutics at the University of Miami. “For prostate and breast cancer, IV delivery may be more advantageous.”

For their dermatological application of CoQ10, the Miami team is using liposomes made of phospholipids as a molecular delivery vehicle into targeted cells.

The Miami researchers have investigated a therapeutic dose of up to 500 mg daily of orally ingested CoQ10 for conditions such as cancer. Applied topically, however, smaller doses may be effective. However, as with all health issues, a thorough discussion with your physician regarding your supplement program is advised.

The research team is planning further clinical trials with Dr. Keyvan Nouri at the Mohs Center in the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in Miami. According to Dr. Nouri, “Mohs microscopic surgery is the gold standard of treatment for basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and other rare cutaneous neoplasms.”33


For years, researchers have suspected that antioxidants may have properties that can aid in the prevention and treatment of cancer. However, answers as to how, why, and which antioxidants work best have continued to challenge them. Every new scientific discovery plays an important part in helping to unravel this ongoing mystery.

As recent studies demonstrate, often-overlooked nutritional therapeutics are gaining ground as essential aspects of cancer management.34 As more is understood about the biochemical mechanisms of nutrients such as CoQ10, research may continue to elucidate their medical applications for managing cancer.

Exciting new research findings from the University of Miami, describing CoQ10 as an anti-cancer agent, may be an important piece of the cancer-cure puzzle. For people diagnosed with cancer—a disease once labeled “incurable”—new research suggests that CoQ10 may well enhance their prospects for living a long and healthy life when incorporated in a daily treatment regimen.


1. Available at: news/view.asp?id=403. Accessed May 16, 2005.

2. Samson KJ. Innovative research and applications for CoQ10. Life Extension. August, 2004:46-55.

3. Crane FL. Biochemical functions of coenzyme Q10. J Am Coll Nutr. 2001 Dec;20(6):591-8.

4. Laaksonen R, Ojala JP, Tikkanen MJ, Himberg JJ. Serum ubiquinone concentrations after short- and long-term treatment with HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 1994;46(4):313-7.

5. Mortensen SA, Leth A, Agner E, Rohde M. Dose-related decrease of serum coenzyme Q10 during treatment with HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors. Mol Aspects Med. 1997;18 SupplS137-44.

6. Watts GF, Castelluccio C, Rice-Evans C, et al. Plasma coenzyme Q (ubiquinone) concentrations in patients treated with simvastatin. J Clin Pathol. 1993 Nov;46(11):1055-7.

7. Human JA, Ubbink JB, Jerling JJ, et al. The effect of Simvastatin on the plasma antioxidant concentrations in patients with hyper-cholesterolaemia. Clin Chim Acta. 1997 Jul 4;263(1):67-77.

8. Ghirlanda G, Oradei A, Manto A, et al. Evidence of plasma CoQ10-lowering effect by HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Clin Pharmacol. 1993 Mar;33(3):226-9.

9. Bargossi AM, Battino M, Gaddi A, et al. Exogenous CoQ10 preserves plasma ubiquinone levels in patients treated with 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors. Int J Clin Lab Res. 1994;24(3):171-6.

10. Sinatra ST. The Coenzyme Q10 Phenomenon. Los Angeles, CA: Lowell House; 1998.

11. Portakal O, Ozkaya O, Erden IM, et al. Coenzyme Q10 concentrations and antioxidant status in tissues of breast cancer patients. Clin Biochem. 2000 Jun;33(4):279-84.

12. Folkers K, Osterborg A, Nylander M, Morita M, Mellstedt H. Activities of vitamin Q10 in animal models and a serious deficiency in patients with cancer. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1997 May 19;234(2):296-9.

13. Palan PR, Mikhail MS, Shaban DW, Romney SL. Plasma concentrations of coenzyme Q10 and tocopherols in cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and cervical cancer. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2003 Aug;12(4):321-6.

14. Jolliet P, Simon N, Barre J, et al. Plasma coenzyme Q10 concentrations in breast cancer: prognosis and therapeutic consequences. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1998 Sep;36(9):506-9.

15. Folkers K, Brown R, Judy WV, Morita M. Survival of cancer patients on therapy with coenzyme Q10. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1993 Apr 15;192(1):241-5.

16. Available at: Accessed June 4, 2005.

17. Florence TM. The role of free radicals in disease. Aust N Z J Ophthalmol. 1995 Feb;23(1):3-7.

18. Perumal SS, Shanthi P, Sachdanandam P. Combined efficacy of tamoxifen and coenzyme Q10 on the status of lipid peroxidation and antioxidants in DMBA induced breast cancer. Mol Cell Biochem. 2005 May;273 (1-2):151-60.

19. Weber C, Sejersgard JT, Mortensen SA, Paulsen G, Holmer G. Antioxidative effect of dietary coenzyme Q10 in human blood plasma. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 1994;64(4):311-5.

20. Conklin KA. Coenzyme q10 for prevention of anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity. Integr Cancer Ther. 2005 Jun;4(2):110-30.

21. Richardson MA, Sanders T, Palmer JL, Greisinger A, Singletary SE. Complementary/alternative medicine use in a comprehensive cancer center and the implications for oncology. J Clin Oncol. 2000 Jul;18(13):2505-14.

22. Prasad KN, Cole WC, Kumar B, Prasad KC. Scientific rationale for using high-dose multiple micronutrients as an adjunct to standard and experimental cancer therapies. J Am Coll Nutr. 2001 Oct;20(5 Suppl):450S-63S.

23. van Dalen EC, Caron HN, Dickinson HO, Kremer LC. Cardioprotective interventions for cancer patients receiving anthracyclines. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2005;(1):CD003917.

24. Lockwood K, Moesgaard S, Hanioka T, Folkers K. Apparent partial remission of breast cancer in ‘high risk’ patients supplemented with nutritional antioxidants, essential fatty acids and coenzyme Q10. Mol Aspects Med. 1994;15 Suppls231-40.

25. Lockwood K, Moesgaard S, Folkers K. Partial and complete regression of breast cancer in patients in relation to dosage of coenzyme Q10. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1994 Mar 30;199(3):1504-8.

26. Lockwood K, Moesgaard S, Yamamoto T, Folkers K. Progress on therapy of breast cancer with vitamin Q10 and the regression of metastases. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1995 Jul 6;212(1):172-7.

27. Hilakivi-Clarke L, Wang C, Kalil M, Riggins R, Pestell RG. Nutritional modulation of the cell cycle and breast cancer. Endocr Relat Cancer. 2004 Dec;11(4):603-22.

28. Folkers K. Relevance of the biosynthesis of coenzyme Q10 and of the four bases of DNA as a rationale for the molecular causes of cancer and a therapy. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1996 Jul 16;224(2):358-61.

29. Frentzel-Beyme R, Chang-Claude J. Vegetarian diets and colon cancer: the German experience. Am J Clin Nutr. 1994 May;59(5 Suppl):1143S-52S.

30. Hodges S, Hertz N, Lockwood K, Lister R. CoQ10: could it have a role in cancer management? Biofactors. 1999;9(2-4):365-70.

31. Folkers K, Morita M, McRee J, Jr. The activities of coenzyme Q10 and vitamin B6 for immune responses. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1993 May 28;193(1):88-92.

32. Gorelick C, Lopez-Jones M, Goldberg GL, Romney SL, Khabele D. Coenzyme Q10 and lipid-related gene induction in HeLa cells. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2004 May;190(5):1432-4.

33. Available at: Accessed June 11, 2005.

34. Duthie SJ, Ma A, Ross MA, Collins AR. Antioxidant supplementation decreases oxidative DNA damage in human lymphocytes. Cancer Res. 1996 Mar 15;56(6):1291-5.