All About Chemotherapy & Supplements

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The best health advice for cancer patients is to keep your doctor informed of everything you are taking. Cancer is nothing to mess around with, and neither is the taxing treatment of chemotherapy. A new report shows that several types of natural supplements might negatively impact chemotherapy.

Acai berry, cumin, herbal tea, turmeric, and long-term use of garlic are the ones responsible. The news was just presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting. There is growing evidence that these popular supplements may intensify or weaken the effect of chemotherapy drugs.

While natural supplements can be very effective, whenever they are mixed with drugs or therapies, patients must exercise caution. They must inform doctors of what they are taking in cases of major issues such as cancer. This includes vitamins and supplements, to avoid interactions that could prove costly.

Herbal supplements, which are plants or plant parts used for therapeutic purposes, can interact with chemotherapy drugs in different ways. Some herbs can interfere with the metabolism of the drugs, making them less effective, while other herbs, such as garlic (used in the long term) may increase the risk of bleeding during surgery. While culinary herbs used in small quantities for flavoring are generally safe, consuming large amounts for prolonged periods of time may have a negative effect on the body when undergoing chemotherapy.

Research shows that 50% of patients undergoing chemotherapy did not tell their doctor they were taking alternative therapies. Some believe it’s not important, while others are uncomfortable admitting they are pursuing alternative therapies.

The researchers believe that chemo patients should stop taking herbal supplements until more is known. But they don’t discount natural medicine, and encourage those interested in complementary approaches to have a conversation with their doctor about other approaches that may be beneficial.

Specifically, they mentioned massage, acupuncture and meditation as being potentially quite helpful in reducing stress, limiting pain and improving quality of life.