Ginkgo biloba and the risk of cancer

Earlier research suggests there might be benefit as discussed here and here.

Now, researchers from the US report the results of a side study (secondary analysis) from the Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory (GEM) Study.

First, the details.

  • 3069 elderly people were randomly assigned to a treatment group and followed for about 6 years.
    • 120 mg Ginkgo extract (EGb 761) twice daily
    • Placebo
  • Hospitalizations for invasive cancer were recorded.

And, the results.

  • There were 148 hospitalizations for cancer in the placebo group vs 162 in the EGb 761 group—not a significant difference.
  • Among the site-specific cancers, there was no difference in breast, colorectal, or prostate cancer between treatments.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “These results do not support the hypothesis that regular use of Ginkgo biloba reduces the risk of cancer.”

It’s possible that waiting for hospitalization before recording cancer might have suppressed the actual incidence of cancer in this study. A large study where cancer incidence is the primary outcome recorded might resolve this issue.

6/3/10 20:36 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.