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Can vitamins and mineral supplements benefit cancer survivorship?

Posted Aug 25 2008 3:07pm
A high percentage of cancer patients report using nutritional supplements, according to a study by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center researchers. Of those who do, breast cancer survivors top the list while prostate cancer survivors were least likely to add vitamin and mineral supplements to their daily health regimen.



Do supplements work in boosting the health of cancer survivors? The researchers are not certain, and feel some supplements might actually hurt rather than help -- but again, they simply do not know as there has not been adequate research conducted into the use of supplements to cancer survivorship.



"Can vitamin and herbal supplements reduce the adverse effects of cancer treatment, decrease the risk of cancer recurrence or improve a patient's chances of survival? We don't really know. Research into these matters has been minimal," said senior author Cornelia (Neli) Ulrich, Ph.D., an associate member of the Hutchinson Center's Public Health Sciences Division. "While supplement use may be beneficial for some patients, such as those who cannot eat a balanced diet, research suggests that certain supplements may actually interfere with treatment or even accelerate cancer growth," she said.



To learn more, read Widespread Vitamin and Mineral Use Among Cancer Survivors: Benefits of Such Use Remain Unclear . As a personal aside, I ran into significant research documentation regarding the benefit of vitamin D to cancer survivorship that I take a vitamin D supplement daily. I live in a northern climate where sunshine is limited for a good number of months each year, and it makes sense I do not get enough vitamin D. And as cancer survivorship goes, I do not feel I have time to wait until years of research determine if this will hurt or help. Each cancer survivor needs to do the research, weigh the facts, and come to a common sense conclusion. At least until the focus and money invested in research shifts from cancer treatment to cancer prevention.
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