With cancer survivors increasingly turning to complementary and alternative medicine to manage the short-term and long-term effects of their conditions, a study from the National Cancer Institute concludes that having a chronic medical condition such as cancer is the primary factor in a person's decision to use dietary supplements.
The researchers studied records of more than 9,000 people. They found adults with cancer or other chronic conditions were more likely to use supplements than people reporting no illness.
According to the researchers, cancer was most closely associated with use of vitamins, while people living with other chronic conditions tended to use a wide variety of supplements.
"A diagnosis of cancer by itself does not have an independent effect on supplement use," the researchers write, adding that most supplement use among cancer survivors appears intended to prevent or lessen related conditions.
The researchers conclude: "These results indicate that having a chronic medical condition is the major factor associated with supplement use.... Consumers and health professionals should be aware that there is limited information on the effects of dietary supplements taken concurrently with prescription and other over-the-counter medications."
This research was published in the March 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
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