Mesothelioma patients are often treated with the chemotherapy drug, yet with a disease as strong as mesothelioma, many people take stomach medications as well, which blocks the absorption of anti-cancers medicines. A new study shows that simply drinking soda can help dramatically with absorbing these medications.
According to Erasmus MC Cancer Institute in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, a class of regular soda, not diet soda, can temporarily produce more acid in the stomach, which increase the stomach’s absorption up to 40%. A study conducted on soda and cancer medications, including 28 patients with lung cancer. The group took anti-cancer medications and water for a week. The next week, the group took the medication again, but this time, with 250 ml of Coke (Coca-Cola in no way endorsed the study).
The results showed that sipping soda with the medication helped the patients absorb the medicine better. Other drinks that are high in pH value, such as orange juice, and acidic drinks such as tonic, don’t work as well as regular Coke. Diet Coke and Coke Zero also didn’t help. Although Coke contains high amounts of sugar, the researchers stated that the benefits of having the medications absorb faster outweighs the cons of drinking soda. In addition, the patients only drank a small amount (0.25l cans) of soda. The researchers stated,
“Cola intake led to a clinically relevant and statistically significant increase in the bioavailability of erlotinib during esomeprazole treatment.”
Dr. Alan Mensch of Northwell Health’s Plainview Hospital also stated that Coke seems to work better than any other brand, because it’s more acidic.
“Coca-Cola Classic was chosen because it increased stomach acid temporarily and was more acidic than other beverages, such as orange juice, 7-Up and Dr. Pepper.”
The researchers also indicated that Coke may work with future anti-cancer medications, as well as current tablets that are absorbed better with acid. Prior to the study, anti-cancer medications were primarily administered intravenously, but in some cases, the drugs weren’t successful. In turn, scientists have been looking for more practical ways to help patients, which resulted in the Coke study.
Currently, the medical guidelines committee is reviewing the study, and if it passes the review, Coke may be added to the treatment plan for people taking erlotinie.
Erlotinie, also known as Tarceva, is an anti-cancer medication that helps block the growth of blood vessels that cancerous tumors use to thrive on. The drug depends on the pH levels of the stomach. Higher pH numbers lower the medication’s absorption rate, and since many cancer patients also take heartburn medication, their pH levels are raised to alkaline levels, making the medication hard to absorb. According to Dr. Alan Mensch of Northwell Health’s Plainview Hospital,
“Unfortunately, many patients requiring Tarceva also need proton pump inhibitors to decrease stomach acidity caused by gastritis” — an irritation of the stomach lining — or by the drugs they are taking, such as certain painkillers.”
The new study shows a lot of promise for mesothelioma patients who have trouble absorbing medications. Nearly 3,000 people in the U.S. alone are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year, and although there has been significant advancements recently with treatment options and extending survival rates, scientists continuously seek out additional ways to help treatment become more effective.
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