Head & neck cancer. Wheatgerm improves quality of life

A multicentric prospective open trial on the quality of life and oxidative stress in patients affected by advanced head and neck cancer treated with a new benzoquinone-rich product derived from fermented wheat germ (Avemar).

Ferrari, C. et al., Mediterranean J. Nutrition and Metabolism. 2008.

Background: Cancer is a complex illness with many deleterious effects on the body and the mind. Patients with cancer tend to have markedly reduced appetite and reduced food intake leading to weight loss, muscle wasting and loss of fat reserves. This constellation of symptoms is called anorexia/cachexia syndrome and is a cause of death in one out of five cancer patients. This state leads to a pro-oxidative, pro-inflammatory state that interferes with health and treatment.

Clinical Study: Italian researchers recruited 60 patients with advanced head and neck cancers and randomly assigned them to two groups. Both groups received standard cancer care but only one group received a fermented wheat germ product. Of the 55 patients who survived for the two month duration of the study, those that consumed the wheat germ product had significantly lower levels of circulating hydroperoxides. Hydroperoxides are an indicator of oxidative stress, related to free radicals and reactive oxygen species. In addition, the group that consumed the fermented wheat germ product had significantly improved quality of life after two months of treatment.

Conclusion: When added to standard head and neck cancer treatment, fermented wheat germ product improved quality of life and reduced harmful oxidative stress.