Anticancer Treatment­­-induced Cognitive Toxicities

Few studies evaluated the protective effect of Ginkgo against cognitive toxicities associated with anticancer treatment, and only 1 study was placebo-controlled.

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Researchers conducted an open-label phase 2 study of 34 patients with a brain tumor who received partial or whole brain radiation at least 6 months prior to enrollment and no evidence of disease progression during the last 3 months.14 All patients received 120 mg daily of Ginkgo for 24 weeks, then a treatment-free washout period for 6 weeks. Significant improvements were observed for executive function, attention/concentration, nonverbal memory, mood, Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy brain and physical subscale.

A double-blind, phase 3 trial randomly assigned 166 women with newly diagnosed breast cancer to receive 60 mg of Ginkgo extract or placebo twice daily, in addition to adjuvant chemotherapy.15 The study treatment was initiated before their second cycle of chemotherapy and continued until 1 month after chemotherapy completion. There was no significant improvement in cognitive function or mood, though there was a modest improvement in nausea (P = .05) among patients who received Ginkgo compared with placebo.

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The available human studies do not support the role of Ginkgo biloba as a treatment for cancer, but the published studies were not placebo-controlled, making it difficult to draw conclusions from the data.

Other studies found no evidence of a protective effect of Ginkgo supplementation against cognitive toxicities associated with radiation or chemotherapy. It is, however, well-tolerated and does not appear to increase the risk of toxicities or affect the efficacy of anticancer therapies. Ginkgo is also not associated with an increased or decreased risk of cancer.


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