Dr. Bray Links

Friday, April 17, 2015

Oncologists aren’t discussing supplements, herbs with patients

It appears many oncologists avoid discussing herbs and supplements with their cancer patients. According to a recently published study, the reason is often simply a lack of knowledge

Researchers at the University of Texas found that less than half of cancer doctors initiate conversations about herbs and supplements with patients. And that’s despite concerns about their harmful effects when combined with cancer treatments such as chemotherapy.

The findings were published in January in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Nearly 400 oncologists were surveyed about their attitudes and knowledge about herbs and supplements. They were also asked about their response to usage among hypothetical patients and their overall communication patterns with actual patients.

Cancer patients often use supplements in an effort to improve their health and manage symptoms. However, these supplements contain active ingredients that can lead to adverse effects when used with chemotherapy or radiation.

Overall, the doctors said they talked about supplements with 41 percent of their patients. However, these doctors initiated just 26 percent of those discussions.

About two-thirds of the doctors believed they didn’t have enough information about supplements to answer their patients’ questions. On top of that, about 60 percent of them admitted to having no education on those products.

Also, 80 percent of the doctors said they would actively dissuade patients from using an unknown herb in combination with chemotherapy.


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