Supplements & You: What Cancer Patients Should Know

September 14, 2021
Supplements & You: What Cancer Patients Should Know

Written by Sarah Kown

Reviewed for medical accuracy by Dr. Jake Prigoff

So you’ve been diagnosed with cancer. What cancer supplements and herbs are safe? What should be avoided at each stage in the process? In this article, we’ll give a brief overview of some supplement facts and misconceptions for you at every stage in your cancer journey.

Supplements v. Naturally-Obtained Vitamins

There is evidence to suggest that a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables can prevent cancer and help your body through the healing process. Your body absorbs more nutrients from food than it does from most supplements. That said, supplements might serve their purpose after treatment. During your cancer treatment, there are a few things you should know before you purchase any supplements.

There is a difference between consuming antioxidant-rich food and antioxidants supplements. While it is suggested that you eat antioxidant-rich foods while undergoing treatment, antioxidant supplements should not be taken at that time. Some of them are so powerful that they can decrease the effectiveness of your treatment so the treatment won’t work as well.

Some antioxidant supplements, such as Vitamins C and E, can cause skin sensitivity and severe reactions when taken during radiotherapy treatment.  They can also interfere with how well chemo drugs work.  Co enzyme Q10, selenium and vitamins A, C and E can also interfere with chemotherapy and prevent the cancer cell damage that it's aiming for. 

​Many doctors will advise you to stay away from all supplements and vitamins while you’re on treatment unless you have a specific deficiency. 

After Treatment

Once you’ve finished cancer treatment and have been given the go-ahead from your doctor to resume taking them, certain supplements can be beneficial, especially if they’re missing from your diet.  For example, the following supplements have cancer-fighting properties, but can also be difficult to incorporate into your diet if you’re not used to having them: 

~ Ground flax seed

~ Turmeric

~ Ginger

~ Garlic

 

Other popular supplements after cancer treatment are:

~ Selenium

~ Glutathione

~ Omega 3 FAs

~ Vitamin C

~ Green tea

~ Vitamin D  

~ Vitamin E

Several studies have shown that these vitamins or minerals help to reduce certain types of cancer.  They can also be obtained through eating a balanced diet, but may be worth supplementing otherwise.

Even if you’re finished treatment, please consult your doctor before taking any vitamins or supplements. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me on Instagram @cancerspecialist.  

Learn More About Own Your Cancer Coaching 

Sarah Kown and Christine Squires created Own Your Cancer Coaching to help people throughout their cancer journey by providing them with the knowledge and tools they will need to optimize control of their health. Sarah, a Medical Physicist and Radiation Oncology Therapist, and Christine, a Behavioral Health Counselor, are working together to create guided course content that will help patients make transformative change in unique and practical ways.

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