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Supplements Used Widely By Cancer Survivors Despite Risks, Studies ShowA recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology showed that cancer patients and survivors are more likely than the general American population to use vitamin and mineral supplements, despite potential risks. The study, conducted by researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, reviewed 32 studies on supplement use among adult cancer patients and survivors between 1999 and 2006. It found that between 64 percent and 81 percent of survivors reported using supplements, as compared with 50 percent of the general population.
"People think if a little is good, a lot is better, and that's plain not true. It can be worse," said Dean Brenner, M.D., a U-M professor of internal medicine and pharmacology who was not involved in the study.
Brenner cited a study showing that certain doses of beta-carotene supplements actually increased cancer risk rather than decreasing it.
The Hutchinson study showed that between 14 percent and 32 percent of cancer survivors started taking supplements after diagnosis. Women, people with higher levels of education and breast cancer survivors were more likely to use supplements.
In addition, between 26 percent and 77 percent of cancer survivors reported using multivitamins, compared with one-third of the general population. Brenner said using a multivitamin won't hurt, but that most people can get the vitamins and minerals they need by eating a balanced diet. Most people do not need more nutrients than the Recommended Dietary Allowance, guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help people develop nutritional goals.
"All you have to do is go into a so-called health food store to see the huge amounts of formulated materials with outrageous claims. Our researchers took a field trip recently to one, and we just shook our heads and said, 'Where do these claims come from?'" Brenner said. There is no evidence that there is any benefit to taking anything beyond the RDA. Individuals with requirements exceeding the RDA should be evaluated and cared for by a competent physician."
Related ResourcesView the original abstract from the Journal of Clinical Oncology or a press release on the study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Few breast cancer surgeons discuss reconstruction options, U-M study finds
Only a third of patients with breast cancer discussed
reconstruction options with their surgeons
before their initial surgeries, according to a recent
U-M Cancer Center study in the journal Cancer.
What's more, women who did discuss reconstruction
up front were four times more likely to
have a mastectomy.
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