Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10

Amazing antioxidant that treats cancer. It is part of the well-known Stockholm Protocol.

CoEnzyme Q10: The Next Cancer Cure or the Next Government Banned Supplement?

According to Dr. Julian Whitaker's July 1994 Health & Healing newsletter and July Supplement, CoEnzyme Q10, a natural substance "essential to the body's energy extraction mechanism, like spark plugs to a gasoline engine", may, in high doses (300-600mg daily), be the next natural breakthrough in the treatment of cancer. However, it the FDA has it's way, CoEnzyme Q10 (CoQ10) will be eliminated from the market. In fact, in 1991, FDA-directed authorities in Texas raided health food stores and confiscated 52 nutritional supplements as well as CoQ10.
Article copyright The Holistic Health Network.

Women's Health Update: Coenzyme Q10 and Breast Cancer


Coenzyme Q was discovered in 1957 in the US, extracted from beef heart mitochondria.1 Since then there has been a small but growing international body of research. A Medline search in April 1997 produced 327 references for ubiquinone since 1990 -- most focusing on CoQ10 and heart disease. Several recent reports about the disappearance of metastasis to the liver from breast cancer have incited an excitement in the alternative medical community. While reports are very promising, concerns about the quality of research and the cost of supplementation may cause physicians to hesitate before recommending CoQ10 to their patients.

Biochemistry of CoQ10

CoQ10, also known as 2,3-dimethoxy-5-methyl-6multiprenyl-l,4-benzoquinone, is a quinone, a member of a group of brightly colored cyclic organic compounds. Several quinones are biologically important as coenzymes and similar to certain vitamins. An example of an essential substance with a quinone-like chemical structure is vitamin E. The potent anticancer agent Adriamycin also has a structure similar to the quinones.

Everything that was once living, and relied on respiration to produce energy contains CoQ. There are several CoQ's, for example, CoQ6 and CoQ7 is found in yeast, CoQ8 in some bacteria. Humans have only CoQ10 along with all vertebrates except for rats, mice and walleye pike, which contain either CoQ9 or CoQ10 plus CoQ9. Tobacco and select bacteria also contain CoQ10.( 1)

CoQ exists in the membrane of mitochondria where it performs its critical function, the manufacture of ATP. CoQ10 is part of the component of the electron transport chain involved in the transfer of both hydrogens and electrons. The hydrogen atoms collected by CoQ are released into the mitechondrial matrix and ultimately form H20. The electrons are transferred to the cytochromes which go on to form AtP. (Hunt and Groff)

High concentrations of CoQ reside in the organs that need the largest supplies of energy such as the heart, liver, and cells of the immune system.( 1)

Where Does CoQ10 Come From?

Human tissue CoQ10 content relies both on endogenous biosynthesis and on exogenous, dietary supply.( 16) CoenzymeQ is a lipid synthesized as part of the cholesterol pathway (but regulated independently of cholesterol) in the liver. Dietary Coenzyme Q is taken up into various organs to an extent of 2-3% but a considerable portion of this absorbed lipid is subjected to metabolic breakdown. It may be possible that these breakdown products go on to contribute to the reformation of CoQ10.( 17)

Deficiencies of CoQ10, Vitamin Deficiencies and Relationship to Cancer

One of the prominent researchers of Coenzyme Q is Karl Folkers from the Institute for Biomedical Research at the University of Texas at Austin. Folkers' group found deficiencies of CoQ10 in the blood of 83 patients in the US who had cancer of the breast, lung, prostate, pancreas, colon, stomach, rectum and other categories.( 2) The deficiency of CoQ10 in cancer patients was the rationale for trials on the immuno-therapy of cancer with CoQ10.

There may be many reasons for a person to have a deficiency of CoQ10. One reason may be due to a vitamin deficiency. The eight vitamins necessary to biosynthesize tyrosine through a cascade of eight aromatic precursors to produce CoQ10 are tetrahydrobiopterin [sic], vitamins B6, C, B2, B12, folic acid, niacinamide, and pantothenic acid. Folkers argues that the general (and especially aging or immune compromised) population has deficiencies of one or more of the eight vitamins required for the biosynthesis of "vitamin Q10." Folkers also points out that these eight vitamins are the same that are required for the biosynthesis of DNA bases. He ventures that these same vitamin deficiencies that can lead to a decreased level of CoQ10 can create mutations during the pairing of DNA bases. He is continuing his research to discover if coenzyme Q deficiency, specific vitamin deficiency and the resulting mutations may be a basis of cancer.( 7)
CoQ10's Use in the Treatment of Breast Cancer

Remission of breast cancer and regression of metastasis

The American and Danish researchers lead by Folkers and Lockwood have been studying CoQ10 as an anticancer agent. In a 1994 study on 32 node-positive breast cancer patients treated with conventional therapy, 90mg/day of CoQ10 and other nutritional supplements, all survived at least 24 months. During this period, the researchers estimated about six deaths would have been expected. A partial response was observed in six patients. In a two-year follow up report, Folkers reports that two of these patients were later given high doses (300 to 400 mg/day) and experienced complete remissions (Lockwood et el., 1994a, 1994b; Folkers et el., 1993 in Boik). In addition to the CoQ10, their protocol included 2,850 mg vitamin C, 2,500 IU vitamin E, 32.5 IU B-carotene, 387 mcg selenium, 1.2 g gamma-linolenic acid, 3.5 g omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil and a low-dose multiple vitamin. Folkers came out with a third report, of patients treated with 390 mg of CoQ10 for 3-5 years. One of the patients experienced a disappearance of multiple liver metastases after 11 months on the therapy.( 3)

The Folkers studies appear impressive, however, Steve Austin, ND, points out problems with their research in his recent article in the Alternative Medicine Review. He states that some of the patients were also treated with tamoxifen and/or chemotherapy, the staging of the cancers was not reported, and no baseline for WBC studies were recorded -- all contributing to unreliable data. He also points out that "in the evaluation of the last report, it is unclear whether the final three cases were consecutive or were selected because these patients fared particularly well." It is hard to evaluate if these patients were only the exceptions or if the study reached statistical significance.

Despite his criticisms, Austin concludes "while troubled by omissions and lack of important data in all three reports, I have nonetheless begun to suggest high-dose CoQ10 as part of the protocol I use with node-positive breast cancer patients with a high risk of recurrence. Alack of serious CoQ10 toxicity, the hope of a therapeutic effect with CoQ10, and a lack of curative allopathic treatments for late-stage patients combines to form my rationale."( 11)

Stimulation of immune function using CoQ10

There have been interesting studies about CoQ10 from Japan. In one, Hanoika et el. reported that the ratio of T4/T8 lymphocytes of eleven subjects (not with known cancer) increased in two months on CoQ10. For these eleven patients, the levels of IgG also increased in six months.( 14) This immunological activity of CoQ10 may explain the regressions of cancer seen in the Folkers studies. The increases in IgG were presumed to be based on transcriptional increases in mRNA and the translational increase in apoenzymes for CoQ10 enzymes.( 4)

Cardioprotection with adriamycin (doxorubicin hydrochloride) chemotherapy

Adriamycin is one of the antitumor antibiotics derived from the species of Streptomyces. Its cytotoxicity precludes its use as antibacterial agent but it has been useful in treating a broad spectrum of tumors. The unique toxicity of adriamycin is damage to the heart muscle. As the total dose reaches 550 mg/m2, the incidence rate of chronic congestive heart failure becomes 1%-4%; above this, the incidence rises dramatically.( 12)

CoQ10 has been administered to cancer patients to successfully reduce chemotherapy-induced heart toxicity.( 8, 9) In a study involving 80 patients receiving chemotherapy with adriamycin, some also received CoQ10. The QTc-duration was significantly prolonged and the QRS voltage was significantly decreased only in patients who did not receive CoQ10.( 8)
In another study conducted by the Folkers group, nine of 15 patients with adenocarcinoma of the lung were treated both with CoQ10 and adriamycin. The six patients on adriamycin alone showed depressed cardiac outputs measured with impedence cardiography. Of the nine patients using both therapies, only one demonstrated an unsustained reduction in cardiac output by day 28. The amount used was 30 mg daily.( 10)

Cardioprotection during radiation

Steve Austin, ND, recommends that any breast cancer patient receiving left sided radiation protect their heart with a combination of antioxidant supplementation using Hawthorn, vitamin E and CoQ10.( 15)
Toxicity of CoQ10

In their 1989 book, Emile G. Bliznakov, MD and Gerald L. Hunt state: "In toxicological tests, involving thousands of human subjects, no risk of toxicity has ever been observed involving CoQ. No matter how high the dosage, no significant toxicity has ever been recorded -- only transient mild nausea."( 1)

Dosages in Breast Cancer Patients

To counteract the cardiotoxicity of Adriamycin -- the levels used in the Japanese studies were 30 mg.( 8, 9)
Treatment of breast cancer -- Folkers' initial research on breast cancer began at 90 mg of CoQ10 (along with the other nutrient protocol). However, Lockwood states that that dosage level of CoQ10 in those breast cancer cases was only somewhat effective and that the 390 mg was more effective.( 3) Steve Austin, ND, also recommends the higher dose.( 11)

Cost of CoQ10 Therapy

Given the preliminary positive research on CoQ10 and the absence of known side effects or toxicity, why not just recommend it as standard protocol to cancer patients? One big factor is cost.
Below is a small sample of prices from reputable supplement companies for the daily cost of supplementation with CoQ10.


After reviewing the limited amount of available research, Dr. Steve Austin concludes "while the preliminary results look both interesting and encouraging, the real effects of using high-dose CoQ10 in the treatment of breast cancer remain unknown."( 11) And yet, as is common in many alternative medical circles, since there is no known toxicity or side effects from taking oral supplementation of CoQ10, and the rewards, if it works, can be tremendous, it seems that treatment of at least some cases of breast cancer with 390 mg of CoQ10 is recommended. Since there is no research as yet about other forms of cancer, application of the data to other sorts of cancer must be up to the doctor and their patient. Unfortunately, the financial burden of the high cost of Coenzyme Q may make it prohibitive to some patients. In the end, there is a need for much more research in the field.


(1.) Bliznakov E Hunt G. The Miracle Nutrient Coenzyme Q10, Bantam Books, 1987.
(2.) 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 CoQ10. Eighth International Symposium on the Biomedical and Clinical Aspects of Coenzyme Q10; Stockholm, Sweden, November 1993 as cited in Austin S. Recent progress in treatment and secondary prevention of breast cancer with supplements. Alt Med Review 1997;2:4-11.
(3.) 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. Molec Aspects Med 1994;15(Suppl):s231-240 as cited in Austin S. Recent progress in treatment and secondary prevention of breast cancer with supplements. Alt Med Review 1997;2:4-11.

(4.) 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 Comm. 1994;199:1504-1508.

(5.) Lockwood K, Moesgaard S, Yamamoto T, Folkers K. Progress on therapy of breast cancer with vitamin Q10 and the regression of metatases. Biochem Biophys Res Corem 1995;212:172-177.

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

(7.) Folkers, K. Relevance of the Biosynthosis 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;224:358.361.

(8.) Okuma K, Furuta I, Ota K: Protective effect of coenzyme Q10 in cardiotoxicity induced by adriamycin Gan To kagaku Tyoho 1984; 11(3):502-8. As cited in Boik J. Cancer and Natural Medicine, Oregon Medical Press, 1995.

(9.) Takimoto M, Sakurai T, Kodama K, et al: Protective effects of CoQ10 administration on cardial toxicity in FAC therapy. Gan To Kogaku Ryoho 1982;9(1):116-21 as cited in Boik J. Cancer and Natural Medicine, Oregon Medical Press, 1995.
(10.) Folkers et al. New progress on the biomedical and clinical research on coenzyme Q in K Folkers, Y. Yamamura, Eds. Biomedical and Clinical Aspects of Coenzyme Q, volume 3. Amsterdam, Elsevier/North Holland Biomedical Press, 1981: 399-412 as cited in Werbach M. Nutritional Influences on Health, Third Line Press, Tarzana CA, 1994:164.
(11.) Austin S. Recent progress in treatment and secondary prevention of breast cancer with supplements. Alt Med Review 1997;2:4-11.

(12.) American Cancer Society Clinical Oncology, ACS: Atlanta, 1995.
(13.) Hunt and Groff,Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism, West Publishing Company, St. Paul MN 1990.
(14.) Hanioka, T, et al. Journ of Dental Health 1993;43(5):667-672 as cited in 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 Comm 1995;212:172-177.

(15.) Austin S. Lecture, National College of Naturopathic Medicine, April 1997.
(16.) Littarru GP, et al. (Rome) Metabolic and diagnostic implications of human blood CoQ10 levels, Biomedical and clinical aspects of coenzyme Q, Elsevier Science Publishers 1991;167-178.
(17.) Appelkvist E, et al. (Sweden)Biosynthesis and regulation of coenzyme Q, Biomedical and clinical aspect of coenzyme Q. Elsevier Science Publishers 1991;141-150.
Article copyright Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients.
By Tori Hudson

Share this with your friends
Coenzyme Q10 cancer treatment.pdf4.36 MB