To explore factors associated with dietary supplement use in cancer survivors, researchers studied 1,049 adults who had been diagnosed with breast, prostate, or colorectal cancer in the United Kingdom.
Participants completed a mailed survey and telephone or online dietary analyses that included questions on dietary supplements.
The major findings of the study were 40% of participants took dietary supplements and 19% of participants believed that dietary supplements could reduce the risk of cancer recurrence.
Women participants meeting five-a-day fruit and vegetable recommendations, and those believing that dietary supplements were important for reducing the risk of cancer recurrence were more likely to use dietary supplements.
Participants with obesity were less likely to use dietary supplements.
Fish oils were the most commonly used dietary supplements, taken by 13% of participants, and 15% of participants use supplements with calcium with or without vitamin D.
As the number of people living with or beyond cancer increases, there is a growing need for a more holistic approach to long-term health care. Information about the role of supplements and the lack of evidence that they reduce cancer recurrence would be beneficial, alongside discussions about the benefits of healthy eating and physical activity.
This study findings highlight the importance of speaking to health care professionals when making decisions about cancer treatment and recovery.
It is also important that any cancer patient who is considering taking supplements discusses it with their doctor, specialist nurse, or dietitian. Additional studies are needed to assess dietary supplement use in cancer survivors living in other regions.