Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Popular herbal supplements may adversely affect chemotherapy treatment

Date:
August 17, 2011
Source:
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Summary:
Acai berry, cumin, herbal tea, turmeric and long-term use of garlic -- all herbal supplements commonly believed to be beneficial to your health -- may negatively impact chemotherapy treatment according to a new report.

Acai berry, cumin, herbal tea, turmeric and long-term use of garlic -- all herbal supplements commonly believed to be beneficial to your health -- may negatively impact chemotherapy treatment according to a new report presented at the recent American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Chicago. Researchers from Northwestern Memorial hospital say there is growing evidence that these popular supplements may intensify or weaken the effect of chemotherapy drugs and in some cases, may cause a toxic, even lethal reaction.

Related Articles


"With the growth of the Internet, patients have better access to information about alternative products and often turn to dietary and herbal supplements to treat their illness because they think they're natural and safe," said June M. McKoy, MD, geriatrician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and lead investigator on the ASCO presentation. "What people don't realize is that supplements are more than just vitamins and can counteract medical therapies if not taken appropriately."

McKoy, who is also director of geriatric oncology at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, says more research is needed to understand which supplements interact with chemotherapy drugs and the extent of those interactions and encourages patients to openly communicate with their physicians about the use of supplements.

"Patients need to tell their doctors what medications they are taking -- including vitamins and supplements -- to avoid any possible interaction," said McKoy who is also an assistant professor of medicine and preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Herbal supplements, defined as plant or plant parts used for therapeutic purposes, can interact with chemotherapy drugs through different mechanisms. Some herbs can interfere with the metabolism of the drugs, making them less effective while other herbs such as long-term use of garlic may 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 summer 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 patient communication in order to prevent potentially dangerous drug interactions," said McKoy.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Northwestern Memorial Hospital. "Popular herbal supplements may adversely affect chemotherapy treatment." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110817101937.htm>.
Northwestern Memorial Hospital. (2011, August 17). Popular herbal supplements may adversely affect chemotherapy treatment. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110817101937.htm
Northwestern Memorial Hospital. "Popular herbal supplements may adversely affect chemotherapy treatment." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110817101937.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Fauci Says Ebola Risk in US "essentially Zero"

Fauci Says Ebola Risk in US "essentially Zero"

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) NIAID Director Anthony Fauci said the risk of Ebola becoming an epidemic in the U.S. is essentially zero Thursday at the Washington Ideas Forum. He also said an Ebola vaccine will be tested in West Africa in the next few months. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nurse Defies Ebola Quarantine With Bike Ride

Nurse Defies Ebola Quarantine With Bike Ride

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) A nurse who vowed to defy Maine's voluntary quarantine for health care workers who treated Ebola patients followed through on her promise Thursday, leaving her home for an hour-long bike ride. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pot-Infused Edibles Raise Concerns in Colorado

Pot-Infused Edibles Raise Concerns in Colorado

AFP (Oct. 30, 2014) Colorado may have legalized marijuana for recreational use, but the debate around the decision still continues, with a recent - failed - attempt to ban cannabis-infused edibles. Duration: 01:53 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
British Navy Ship Arrives in Sierra Leone With Ebola Aid

British Navy Ship Arrives in Sierra Leone With Ebola Aid

AFP (Oct. 30, 2014) The British ship RFA ARGUS arrived in Sierra Leone to deliver supplies and equipment to help the fight against Ebola. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins