Supplements during Treatment
This is sort of a companion piece to yesterday's about flax seed, although this article from Cure Today talks about taking supplements, vitamins, etc during active treatment. As you hopefully know, there is a great deal of hype and very little evidence that any of these things help--and there is concern that they may actually hurt. First, remember that just because something is "natural", it may not be good for you (think poisonous mushrooms, think rattle snakes). Next, be very aware that studies have not been done to test the efficacy of most of these supplements and, maybe worse, there is real concern that some might interfere with the chemotherapy or radiation doing its job. The bottom line, I think, is to talk with your doctor before swallowing any of these vitamins or supplements. And read the article below:
Supplements During Cancer: Help or Hype?
BY LAURA BEIL
Alyssa Phillips keeps a plastic bin labeled "Hope" stashed in her pantry. Inside are her daily supplements: vitamins D3 and K2, astragalus root and more than two dozen bottles of other supplements. She takes them four times every day in divided doses. Wherever she goes, the box goes with her. It even accompanied her to the bone marrow transplant unit.
Three years ago, at the age of 31, Phillips received a diagnosis of a rare form of cervical cancer that had already metastasized to her liver. "Ironically, I had just finished with my best time ever in a half-marathon just six weeks before," says Phillips, who lives in Atlanta. "I literally had never felt better."
Her doctors gave her a slim chance of surviving, saying her best option was a radical hysterectomy, followed by chemotherapy so powerful it would annihilate her bone marrow—which is why, after undergoing the hysterectomy and some initial rounds of regular chemotherapy, she checked into the bone marrow transplant unit at Northside Hospital in November 2008 for two consecutive rounds of high-dose chemotherapy, each followed by a bone marrow transplant [stem cell rescue].
Phillips, a physician's assistant with an undergraduate degree in nutrition, has had an interest in supplements that long preceded her illness. But when she found herself facing cancer, she started buying them as if her life depended on it. Because to her, it did. When the time came to rescue her bone marrow, she had already discussed her supplement cocktail with her doctors. They advised against taking anything during treatment because doing so carried so many uncertainties about interactions. She chose to anyway, tossing a jacket over her Hope Box in her bedside cart so the nurses wouldn't spy it, and taking the pills in secret. "It was my choice," she says. "I did my research, and I felt comfortable there was no risk. I believed strongly that the supplements I was taking were a 'difference-maker' for me."