Chemotherapy: adverse effects reduced by wheat germ

Fermented wheat germ extract reduces chemotherapy-induced febrile neutropenia in pediatric cancer patients.

Garami M, Schuler D, Babosa M, et al. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. Oct 2004;26(10):631-635.

Background: Chemotherapy consists of powerful medications that kill human cells. Ideally the cells that are killed are cancer cells, but that is not always the case. One of the particularly troubling side effects of chemotherapy in children is febrile neutropenia. Neutropenia means that the body has a lack of white blood cells and febrile means fever causing. When someone has too few white blood cells, regardless of cause, it means that their immune system cannot fight off infection.

Clinical Trial: Twenty-two pediatric cancer patients participated in a clinical trial of a fermented wheat germ product called Avemar™. The group was split evenly into two groups, one group received oral Avemar™ and the other did not. The groups were matched to one another by age and cancer type to minimize variability. The trial was open label, so every participant knew if they were taking the study medication or not. At the end of the study period, there was no evidence that cancer had progressed in either group. However, the number of episodes of febrile neutropenia was significantly less in the fermented wheat germ group (n = 30) than in the control group (n = 46).

Conclusion: Avemar™ reduced the likelihood that children would develop febrile neutropenia from the chemotherapy used to treat solid tumor cancers.