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Dietary Supplements

Dietary supplements include things like vitamins, minerals, herbs, or products made from plants. They can also be made from animal parts, algae, seafood, yeasts, fungus, and many other food substances or extracts. They include powdered amino acids, enzymes, energy bars, and liquid food supplements.

Some dietary supplements are formulated under careful conditions in clean, controlled laboratories and labeled accurately. Others are made less carefully, and have been found to contain none of the substances listed on their labels. And many supplements contain other substances that are not listed on their labels fillers, different herbs, or actual drugs that are known to be able to cause harm.

If you are thinking about using dietary supplements as part of your cancer treatment, you’ll want to know more before you decide what to do. The information here will help you learn more about dietary supplements so you can make a more informed decision about using them safely.

Why people with cancer use dietary supplements

Dietary supplements are also called nutritional supplements.

You might need to have dietary supplements if you have low levels of particular nutrients. For example, Hormone therapy (often used for Breast Cancer and prostate cancer) can weaken your bones. So your doctor might give you Calcium and Vitamin D supplements.

Or, your cancer might stop you from easily absorbing nutrients from your food. So your doctor might prescribe a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement.

Many people with cancer use dietary supplements to help fight their cancer or make them feel better. Most people use supplements alongside their conventional cancer treatments, such as Radiotherapy or Chemotherapy. But others choose to use them instead of conventional treatments.

Having nutritional supplements instead of conventional Cancer Treatment could be harmful to your health. It might greatly reduce the chance of curing or controlling your cancer.

It is important to talk to a health professional if you’re thinking of taking nutritional supplements. If you are having eating difficulties or trouble maintaining your weight your specialist might refer you to a dietitian. They can given advice on diet and supplements.

How you have it

Vitamins and dietary supplements come as pills, tablets or a liquid. Some complementary or alternative therapists also use injections of dietary supplements.

Side effects

Some dietary supplements can cause skin sensitivity and severe reactions when taken during Radiotherapy treatment.

Some vitamins or minerals could interfere with how well cancer drugs work. Antioxidant supplements such as co enzyme Q10, selenium and the vitamins A, C and E can help to prevent cell damage. So some doctors think this might stop Chemotherapy working well.

Get advice from your doctor, specialist nurse, or dietitian if you want to take supplements and are having any kind of Cancer Treatment.

Research into dietary supplements and cancer

There is no reliable evidence that any dietary supplement can help to prevent cancer. But there is evidence that a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables can reduce your cancer risk.

Some research has looked at whether particular vitamins and dietary supplements can help to prevent cancer in certain groups of people.

A study looked at Vitamin D supplements in preventing cancer and heart disease but the researchers found that Vitamin D supplements did not lower the incidence of cancer or heart disease.

An organisation called The Cochrane Collaboration carries out systematic reviews. These are overviews of all the research into a specific issue. The reviews look at the published results of all the trials that have investigated a particular treatment in a particular situation. They pull all that information together and draw conclusions.

A Cochrane review published in 2018 looked at an essential mineral called selenium. They wanted to see if selenium supplements could reduce cancer risk. After looking at all the information they found that selenium did not reduce cancer risk. Some of the trials even raised concern by reporting a higher incidence of high grade Prostate Cancer and type 2 diabetes in people who took selenium supplements.


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