beth israel deaconess medical center a harvard medical school teaching hospital

  • Contact BIDMC
  • Maps & Directions
  • Other Locations
  • Careers at BIDMC
  • Smaller Larger

Find a Doctor

Request an Appointment

Smaller Larger

Question Nutritional Supplements

Posted 10/13/2016

Posted in

  This is a somewhat broader perspective than we usually consider in this forum. We all know that many cancer patients and survivors add nutritional supplements/vitamins to their diets in the hopes of getting and staying well. We also know that some cancer patients reject traditional Western medicine in favor of supplements only, and I hope you share my distress about that decision!

  This article from Time discusses the questionable value of nutritional supplements/vitamins for general health. Is it worth the money to buy Ginseng or mega vitamins or other herbs or would that money be better spent on fruit or a movie ticket or new sneakers? There is growing evidence that not only may there be no benefit, there can be harm from some things.

  Would welcome your thoughts. Here is the start and a link to read more:

You Asked: Should I Take Nutrition Supplements?

Knee acting up? Swallow some glucosamine. Brain a little foggy? Pop some omega-3. Worried about the
flu? Reach for Echinacea, or ginseng or zinc—or all three.
You’ve likely heard recommendations like these, since the market for health supplements from vitamin D
to ginkgo biloba has exploded in recent decades. Sales of supplements topped $27 billion in the U.S. last
year and are expected to reach nearly $300 billion worldwide by 2024. Whether you’re suffering through
an ailment or hoping to prevent one, there’s undoubtedly a pill, powder or probiotic that boasts the power
to mend or defend your body.
But if you think picking up an over-the-counter supplement is a risk-free proposition, you’re mistaken, says Dr. Mark Moyad, director of complementary and alternative medicine at the University of Michigan Medical Center. “The biggest problem I see is that consumers treat these [supplements] differently than they do prescription drugs, and they shouldn’t,” Moyad says. “Like drugs, supplements come with benefits and limitations, and like drugs there are serious risks involved.”
What sorts of risks? “We know that taking too much of certain vitamins can encourage tumor growth and
cancer,” Moyad explains. Supplement contamination is another major issue, says Dr. JoAnn Manson,
chief of the division of preventative medicine at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Read more:


Add your comment