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Integrating Dietary Supplements

Posted 9/5/2013

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  I have written numerous other times about the role of dietary supplements in cancer care. Almost everyone who is diagnosed with cancer wonders, sooner or later, about what to eat. Whether the concern is focused on what is possible to get down while on treatment or what might help you stay healthy during and/or after treatment or whether one is hoping that there will be some anti-cancer benefit of certain foods, it occurs to us all. On a small scale, most people question if organic foods are necessary and whether they are worth the additional cost. As far as I know, there have been no studies to prove that any foods are miracle foods or prevent or reduce cancer, but we all know that some things are especially good for us--think blueberries and dark leafy greens.

  This is an article from Integrative Cancer Therapies about integrating dietary supplents into cancer treatment. One very big caveat: always talk with your doctor what you are eating as there are worries about some things possibly interfering the the chemotherapy drugs or radiation. Here is the abstract from the article and then a link to read more:

Integrating Dietary Supplements Into Cancer Care
Moshe Frenkel, MD1,2,*, Donald I. Abrams, MD3, Elena J. Ladas, MS, RD4,
Gary Deng, MD5, Mary Hardy, MD6, Jillian L. Capodice, LAC, MS7,
Mary F. Winegardner, PA-C, MPAS8, J. K. Gubili, MS5, K. Simon Yeung,
PharmD, MBA, LAc5, Heidi Kussmann, ND, FABNO9, and Keith I. Block, MD10Abstract

Many studies confirm that a majority of patients undergoing cancer therapy use self-selected forms of complementary therapies, mainly dietary supplements. Unfortunately, patients often do not report their use of supplements to their providers. The failure of physicians to communicate effectively with patients on this use may result in a loss of trust within the therapeutic relationship and in the selection by patients of harmful, useless, or ineffective and costly nonconventional therapies when effective integrative interventions may exist. Poor communication may also lead to diminishment of patient autonomy and self-efficacy and thereby interfere with the healing response. To be open to the patient’s perspective, and sensitive to his or her need for autonomy and empowerment, physicians may need a shift in their own perspectives. Perhaps the optimal approach is to discuss both the facts and the uncertainty with the patient, in order to reach a mutually informed decision. Today’s informed patients truly value physicians who appreciate them as equal participants in making their own health care choices. To reach a mutually informed decision about the use of these supplements, the Clinical Practice Committee of The Society of Integrative Oncology undertook the challenge of providing basic information to physicians who wish to discuss these issues with their patients. A list of leading supplements that have the best suggestions of benefit was constructed by leading researchers and clinicians who have experience in using these supplements. This list includes curcumin, glutamine, vitamin D, Maitake mushrooms, fish oil, green tea, milk thistle, Astragalus, melatonin, and probiotics. The list includes basic information on each supplement, such as evidence on effectiveness and clinical trials, adverse effects, and interactions with medications. The information was constructed to provide an up-to-date base of knowledge, so that physicians and other health care providers would be aware of the supplements and be able to discuss realistic expectations and potential benefits and risks.



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