– EN Fitness & Wellbeing – One-third of cancer patients use complementary and alternative medicine to help treat their illness but do not tell their doctor, new research has found.
Researchers at the University of Texas surveyed 3,100 cancer patients, and found that 33 per cent incorporated meditation, medical cannabis, herbal supplements or even special diets into their treatment programme of their own volition.
Of those who practiced alternative therapies, 29 per cent admitted they kept it a secret from their doctor, either because they didn’t want to disclose it or their doctor didn’t ask.
Lead author of the study, Dr. Nina Sanford, has urged doctors to discuss complementary and alternative treatments with patients, and claimed that their input could be vital in guiding cancer sufferers to recovery.
“A lot of complementary or alternative medicine is potentially very helpful, like mindfulness or meditation – those are things we would recommend anyway,” she told The Daily Mail. “But other things could be detrimental, like supplements or special diets. It’s important for a physician to know everything their patient is doing so they can counsel them and find ways to safely integrate those into their care.”
Dr. Sanford also encouraged cancer patients to be more open with their doctors, and highlighted that herbal supplements often contain a combination of various substances which could interfere with more conventional treatments.
“I would recommend patients avoid using (herbal supplements) during radiation because there’s likely not data on certain supplements, which could interfere with treatment,” she reflected. “With radiation specifically, there is concern that very high levels of antioxidants could make radiation less effective.”