The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog ran from 2006 to 2016 and was intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    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.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Zinc supplements in patients with head and neck cancer

    Here’s a report (see page 113) from the 2007 Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancer Symposium.

    Researchers at the North Central Cancer Treatment Group (NCCTG) conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to determine the value of zinc in preventing taste alterations (dysgeusia) in patients with head and neck cancer who were undergoing radiation therapy.

    Here are the details.

    • 169 patients randomly assigned to zinc sulfate 45 mg by mouth 3 times/day, vs placebo administered throughout radiation to the posterior oropharynx and for one month after.
    • 81% of patients experienced taste alterations: 61 of those taking zinc and 71 taking placebo.
    • Time to taste alteration was 2.3 weeks with zinc vs 1.6 weeks in the placebo arm.

    Although patients taking zinc had a delay in the onset of altered taste, the difference was not statistically significant. Therefore, the researchers concluded that zinc at the doses studied failed to prevent taste alterations in patients undergoing radiation-based treatment regimens for head and neck cancer.

    The results differ from an earlier study in patients with dysgeusia that was not associated with cancer or other diseases.

    3/10/07 14:42 JR

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