CAM UseCancerEchinaceaGarlicGinkgoVitamins

CAM use among African American breast cancer survivors

Researchers in Boston and Washington, DC, determined the prevalence of multivitamins, folic acid, and herbal supplement use.

First, the details.

  • 998 breast cancer survivors completed the 1999 Black Women’s Health Study questionnaire.
  • CAM use was defined as the intake of natural herbs, multi-vitamins, and folic acid at least 3 days per week within the past 2 years.

And, the results.

  • 68% had used either herbals or multivitamin supplements or both.
  • The 3 most frequently used herbals:
    • Garlic (21%)
    • Ginkgo (12%)
    • Echinacea (9%)
  • Factors associated with herbal use:
    • Single marital status
    • Alcohol consumption of 1 to 3 drinks per week
  • Multivitamin use was significantly lower among obese women and current smokers.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “A significant number of African American breast cancer survivors are using herbals and multivitamins… However, the reasons for CAM use are unclear and should be investigated for their impact among survivors.”

For comparison, according to the National Center of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 36% of adults in the US use some form of CAM. When megavitamin therapy and prayer specifically for health reasons are included, that number rises to 62%.

4/20/11 19:32 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.