Alternative medicines are not always safe for cancer patients -

Alternative medicines are not always safe for cancer patients


Today’s Video of the Day from UT Southwestern Medical Center describes how alternative medicines may affect cancer patients.

One-third of people with a cancer diagnosis report the use of complementary therapies such as meditation, yoga, acupuncture, herbal medicine, and supplements.

Dr. Nina Sanford is an assistant professor of Radiation Oncology who specializes in and treats cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. According to her analysis, herbal supplements are the most common alternative medicine used by cancer patients, followed by osteopathic manipulation.

Dr. Sanford found that 29 percent of patients who use complementary medicine do not inform their physicians.

“Younger patients are more likely to use complementary and alternative medicines and women were more likely to, but I would have thought more people would tell their doctors,” said Dr. Sanford.

“You don’t know what’s in them. Some of these supplements are kind of a mishmash of different things. Unless we know what’s in them, I would recommend patients avoid using them during radiation because there’s likely not data on certain supplements, which could interfere with treatment. With radiation specifically, there is concern that very high levels of antioxidants could make radiation less effective.”

The study is published in the journal JAMA Oncology.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

Video Credit: UT Southwestern Medical Center

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