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)
Affiliations: [a] Clinical Nutrition Unit, Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria San Martino, 16132 Genoa, Italy. e-mail: [email protected]
| [b] Clinical Nutrition Unit, Ospedale Evangelico, Turin, Italy | [c] Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Haematology Department, Ospedale Niguarda, Milan, Italy | [d] Clinical Nutrition Unit, Ospedale di Lecco, Lecco, Italy | [e] Artificial Nutrition Unit, ASL1, Carrara, Italy | [f] Clinical Nutrition Unit, Ospedale di Montecchio Maggiore, Vicenza, Italy
Abstract: Background and aim: Anorexia/cachexia syndrome is frequently correlated with increased oxidative stress (OS). A fermented wheat-germ extract with a standardized benzoquinone content (brand name Avemar) has been shown to exert an intense antioxidant activity with no side effects. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of Avemar in patients affected by head and neck cancer, correlating the variations with OS with the quality of life as assessed by the Spitzer's index. Patients and methods: A cohort of 60 patients affected by head and neck tumours (stage IIIa, IIIb, IV) were enrolled in the study following an open-label protocol. The patients were assigned to two subgroups, A or B. Group A was treated with conventional oncological therapy alone, and group B was treated with Avemar in addition to standard therapy. After 2 months only 55 patients survived and could be evaluated (29 in the control group and 26 in the Avemar group). Each patient was checked for circulating concentrations of hydroperoxides using the FRAS III test. Results: The levels of OS significantly decreased after 2 months in the group receiving Avemar (group). The value of Spitzer's index was significantly higher in group B, attesting to an improved quality of life. Conclusion: Although the specific active substance in Avemar has not yet been identified, the reduction in free oxygen radicals induced by it is correlated with a clinically significant improvement in the quality of life in patients with advanced cancer.
Keywords: Fermented wheat germ extract, Head and neck cancer, Quality of life, Oxidative stress, D-ROMs test