Dietary Supplement Use Among Breast and Prostate Cancer Patients Undergoing Radiation Therapy
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Human Nutrition Honors Theses; 2009
Background: As more Americans attempt to take charge of their health, interest in and usage of nutritional supplements has increased among the general population, and even more among cancer patients. However, few studies have accurately measured supplement use among this population. There is little scientific evidence that supplements will reduce the side effects of cancer therapy or directly treat the cancer. In addition, controversy surrounding antioxidants and their effect on cancers treated with radiation therapy raises many questions regarding their safety and efficacy. Objective: To define the nutritional supplement use among women and men undergoing radiation therapy for breast and prostate cancers, including amount, frequency, and type of supplement use as well the relationship between supplement use and quality of life. Design: Fifty-six women and fifty-two men with newly diagnosed breast and prostate cancers who chose radiation treatment completed an interview regarding their supplement use and completed demographic and quality of life questionnaires prior to the initiation of radiation therapy, at completion of radiation therapy, and at follow-up six weeks later. Supplement ingredients and amounts consumed were quantified, and demographic and quality of life data was entered into Excel databases. Results: The mean age was 53 years for breast cancer patients and 63 years for prostate cancer patients. At the initiation of radiation therapy, 73% (n=41) of women and 63% (n=33) of men reported supplement use. A total of 133 different supplement products were consumed among women and 113 among men. Among supplement users, an average of 3.2 supplements per woman and 3.4 supplements per man was consumed. The most common supplement consumed in both sexes was a combination multivitamin/multimineral (52% of women, 44% of men). Antioxidants were also prevalent, with 46% of men and women consuming supplements containing antioxidant nutrients at the initiation of therapy, excluding those in multivitamin products. For breast cancer patients, indicators of quality of life such as global health status increased from initiation of radiation therapy to follow-up six weeks following therapy completion, while indicators of physical and functioning and fatigue did not significantly change. In the prostate cancer cohort, physical functioning and vitality markers steadily decreased throughout the enrollment period, while markers of general health were varied. The relationship of supplement use to quality of life indicators is currently under investigation. Significance: This study is one of the most detailed and accurate assessments of supplement use among cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy. Our findings suggest that supplement use among women and men newly diagnosed with breast and prostate cancers is more common than previously reported for cancer patients, and significantly higher than the general population. Defining dietary supplement use of these cohorts will help us design randomized clinical trials to investigate the effects of supplements on cancer treatment with radiation therapy.
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