'A third of US cancer patients say they used herbal medicines, chiropractic massage or other alternative remedies, but many kept this secret from their doctor, a study has warned.
Of the cancer patients and survivors who said they used complementary or alternative medicines (CAMs), 29 per cent said they didn’t tell their doctor, the University of Texas-led study found.
There is no evidence that any alternative treatments can improve cancer survival. Though some treatments might improve quality of life, herbal remedies and diets can negatively interact with prescribed drugs or make them less effective, experts said.
Another recent study suggested that people who used CAMs were twice as likely to die from their disease, largely because they were more likely to refuse some or all parts of treatment.
"Given the potentially serious, adverse, and wide-reaching implications of CAM use (particularly use of alternative medicines) in patients with cancer, an accurate assessment of the prevalence of CAM use is needed,” the University of Texas researchers said.
UK complementary medicine expert Professor Edzard Ernst told The Independent that CAMs are not just a US phenomenon.
A recent UK study found 34 per cent of cancer patients use dietary supplements “some of which might interact with prescribed cancer treatments,” Professor Ernst said. “We also know that many patients fail to inform their oncology team about this.”
He said some treatments might cause direct harm and others could interact with the prescribed treatments and might render them less effective.
Among the 3,118 current and past patients in the University of Texas study, published in the journal JAMA Oncology, more than 1,023 said they used CAMs in the past 12 months.
Herbal supplements were the most common example, used by 35.8 per cent of people, followed by chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation of the spine or joints, used by 25.4 per cent.
Other therapies included yoga and massage (7.6 per and 6.9 per cent respectively), and acupuncture, cancer diets and homeopathy (each used by fewer than 3 per cent of CAM users).'
Read more: Third of cancer patients use herbal remedies, chiropractors and alternative medicines, but many don't tell their doctor, study shows
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