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Popular herbal supplements may adversely affect chemotherapy treatment
Date:8/17/2011

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 going through chemotherapy.

Recent research shows that 50 percent 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," said McKoy. "The truth is, integrative approaches can be beneficial for cancer patients, but it's important to take these approaches at the right time and under the supervision of your doctor."

McKoy urges patients to stop taking herbal supplements while receiving chemotherapy until more is known about possible interactions, but encourages those who are interested in complementary approaches to have a conversation with their doctor about other approaches that may be beneficial.

"Integrative therapies such as massage, acupuncture and meditation can address important patient needs by alleviating stress, addressing pain and helping patients cope," said Melinda Ring, MD, medical director for the Northwestern Memorial Physicians Group's Center for Integrative Medicine and Wellness.

No matter the course of treatment, McKoy stresses the importance of physicians and patients being more cognizant of this potential interaction and encourages communication about all herbal supplement intakes. "Patients should bring in labels and bottles to their appointments. This can help the doctor calibrate drug dosage with other supplements in mind in order to prevent toxicities," stated McKoy.

McKoy plans to launch a pilot study this fall to examine how frequently conversations about supplements come up between cancer patients and their doctors.

"By identifying communication barriers, we can take steps to improve doctor pati
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Contact: Angela Salerno
asalerno@nmh.org
312-926-8327
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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