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Study Finds Widespread Vitamin and Mineral Use Among Cancer Survivors, Although Benefits of Such Use Remain Unclear
Date:1/31/2008

SEATTLE, Jan. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- Use of vitamin and mineral supplements among cancer survivors is widespread, despite inconclusive evidence that such use is beneficial, according to a comprehensive review of scientific literature conducted by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and published Feb. 1 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

"Can vitamin and herbal supplements reduce the adverse effects of cancer treatment, decrease the risk of cancer recurrence or improve a patient's chances of survival? We don't really know. Research into these matters has been minimal," said senior author Cornelia (Neli) Ulrich, Ph.D., an associate member of the Hutchinson Center's Public Health Sciences Division. "While supplement use may be beneficial for some patients, such as those who cannot eat a balanced diet, research suggests that certain supplements may actually interfere with treatment or even accelerate cancer growth," she said.

In reviewing 32 studies conducted between 1999 and 2006, Ulrich and co-author Christine Velicer, Ph.D., formerly a postdoctoral fellow at the Hutchinson Center (now an epidemiologist at Merck Research Laboratory in North Wales, Pa.), found that many of the nation's 10 million adult cancer survivors use nutritional supplements.

They found 64 percent to 81 percent of cancer survivors overall reported using vitamins or minerals (excluding multivitamins), whereas in the general population only 50 percent of adults reported taking dietary supplements.

Survivors of breast cancer reported the highest use (75 percent to 87 percent), whereas prostate-cancer survivors reported the least (26 percent to 35 percent). Factors associated with the highest level of supplement use overall included a higher level of education and being female.

The researchers also found that many people initiate the use of vitamins and supplements after cancer diagnosis; between 14 percent and 32 percent start taking them afte
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SOURCE Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
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