Does alternative medicine help cancer patients?
Most herbal and dietary supplements have not been tested rigorously enough to say whether they can help or harm cancer prevention or treatment. However, some non-traditional approaches show promise for easing symptoms.
Scientists generally agree on these:
Mind-body techniques — meditation, hypnosis, relaxation techniques, cognitive-behavioral therapy, biofeedback, guided imagery
Ginger capsules for chemotherapy nausea
Yoga, tai chi
Music and art therapy
Acupuncture for certain types of nausea, pain, dry mouth and possibly hot flashes
DOES NOT HELP OR MAY HARM
High doses of vitamins E, A (beta carotene), and possibly C
PC-SPES, an herbal concoction for prostate health
RISK OF DRUG OR HORMONE INTERACTION
St. John's wort (lowers effectiveness of many medicines)
Fish oil, garlic, ginger, gingko, feverfew (bleeding risk)
Magnesium and thiazide (bad with cisplatin and similar cancer drugs)
Red clover, dong quai, licorice (hormonal risk for women on aromatase inhibitors after breast cancer)
Folic acid (interferes with the cancer drug methotrexate)
Sources: Society for Integrative Oncology, American Dietetic Association, various federal agency Web sites, AP interviews.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
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