Managing Side Effects and/or Late Effects of Treatment
Cancer Nutrition Services: Nutrition and Cancer Prevention
Help or Harm?
Research on nutritional supplements and
herbal products is far from conclusive, but
an estimated 65% to 80%t of
cancer patients already use them. With so many possible agents to investigate, conclusive evidence of true benefit is hard
to come by.
Nutritional supplements and cancer treatment often don't mix
Because of this, the American Institute for Cancer Research does not recommend the use of supplements to protect against cancer. But if you do take a nutritional supplement or herbal product, the goal is to do no harm: Avoid supplements that may interfere with treatment, cause side effects that could hinder adequate nutrition, or cause significant discomfort or damage to your body.
The following is a list of common nutritional supplements and herbal products used for the treatment of cancer or associated side effects. Use it to start a conversation with your health care team about what is best for you during your treatment.
A general multivitamin with minerals containing no more than 200% to 300% of the Daily Reference Intake may be beneficial, but it is important to know manufacturers of nutritional supplements are not obligated to follow the strict government regulations written for drug manufacturers. This means the content, strength and purity of a supplement may vary among brands and even different batches of the same brand. To ensure the supplement you are taking contains the ingredients listed and does not contain harmful levels of contaminants, look for the U.S. Pharmacopeia, Consumer Lab.com or NSF international seal of approval.
The bottom line is that a healthy, well-balanced diet including lots of plant-based foods-such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables-is most strongly and consistently associated with cancer reduction and lower recurrence rates. The benefi cial effects of the vitamins and minerals contained in these foods just can't be matched with an isolated nutritional supplement or herbal product.
Please see our Nutritional supplements Chart for information on which supplements help or hurt.