Lowering expectations for dietary supplements in patients with cancer

Dr. Steven Thomas and his team from the University of Bristol in the U.K. found that neither dietary modifications nor nutritional supplements such as vitamins, antioxidants, retinol, and garlic alter the disease course of patients with cancer or preinvasive (precancerous) lesions. Their conclusion is based on an analysis of 59 generally low quality trials.

“We should not,” Dr. Thomas concluded, “maintain the notion that nutritional interventions can be promoted because at least they will do no harm.”

The accompanying editorial highlighted the non-statistically significant reductions in risk of all-cause mortality and cancer mortality with a “healthy diet,” largely in breast cancer patients.

However, at this time, the primary reason for patients with cancer to pay attention to their diet is that they are likely to live a long time, and a healthy diet contributes to better overall health.

7/27/06 18:40 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.