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Diet supplements don't benefit cancer patients: journal
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2006 10:01 am    Post subject: Diet supplements don't benefit cancer patients: journal Reply with quote


Diet supplements don't benefit cancer patients: journal
Wed Jul 19, 2006 6:07 AM BST184

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Diet changes or nutritional supplements, such
as vitamins, antioxidants, retinol or garlic, do not alter the course of
disease in patients with cancer or precancerous conditions, according to
the findings of one of two studies published in the Journal of the
National Cancer Institute.

However, antibiotic treatment to eradicate Helicobacter pylori, a common
bacterial infection associated with stomach ulcers and cancer, slows the
growth of precancerous stomach tissue, the authors of the second paper

Dr. Steven Thomas and associates at the University of Bristol in the UK
conducted a review of clinical trials that focused on the effects of
nutritional supplements in patients with cancer or precancerous tissue.
They excluded studies used to treat complications, as well as studies that
used synthetic retinoids, vitamin analogues, herbal supplements, and
polysaccharide K.

The final analysis included 25 trials on nutritional studies in people
with cancer and 34 trials in people with precancerous conditions. The
quality of the trials was generally low, the authors note.

Overall, Thomas and his team found little evidence to support claims that
nutritional supplements had any effect, either beneficial or harmful.

Thomas's group cautions that "we should not maintain the notion that
nutritional interventions can be promoted because at least they will do no

On the other hand, "encouraging a healthy diet is certainly important."
Many cancer patients and those with precancerous conditions will live a
long time, and if they have a poor diet, they could eventually die of
diet-related diseases. But physicians should not make this a priority for
patients undergoing cancer treatments.

They also advise doctors to let patients know about the lack of evidence
of any benefit of diet supplements.

In the second paper, Dr. Mitchell Gail from the National Cancer Institute
in Bethesda, Maryland, and investigators in the U.S. and in China report
the results of a study to reduce the high prevalence of advanced
precancerous stomach conditions in patients in Shandong Province, China.

In 1994, tests were performed on 3,365 subjects ages 35 to 64 years old.
The investigators found that only 0.18 percent had normal stomach linings.

The 2,258 subjects who tested positive for H. pylori infection were
randomly assign three treatment groups:

-Omeprazole (sold in the U.S. as Prilosec and Zegerid), which reduces
stomach acids and heartburn, and the antibiotic amoxicillin (sold in the
U.S. as Amoxil, Trimax and other trade names)

-A supplement containing vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium

-A supplement containing garlic

These patients were also given a placebo.

The 1107 subjects without H. pylori infection were randomly assigned to
receive supplements with vitamins, garlic or placebo.

In 1999 and 2003, visualization of the stomach and biopsies were performed
for all patients.

Gail's group found no evidence that vitamin or garlic supplements
favorably altered the precancerous stomach tissue or reduce the number of
subjects with stomach cancer, severe gastritis, intestinal tissue
abnormalities or average disease severity scores.

In contrast, they found that H. pylori treatment lead to statistically
significant reductions in the prevalence of severe gastritis, intestinal
abnormalities, stomach cancer, and the severity and progression of
precancerous stomach tissues.

These two reports illustrate the current status of chemoprevention: "hard
to summarize, many negative findings, but some hopeful nuggets of
progress," Dr. John A. Baron from Dartmouth Medical School in Lebanon, New
Hampshire, writes in a related editorial.

SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, July 19, 2006.
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