Recent German research found that more than 70% of people with cancer supplement their regular hospital treatment with complementary and alternative medicine. More worryingly, many do so without advising their doctor.
This is important because interactions of the complementary medicines and their regular drugs could make cancer treatment ineffective, or worse still, cause toxic side-effects that could lead to death.
The study found a high degree of complementary medicine use by people with cancer across all age groups, and higher use among women than men. A small percentage (8%) of cancer patients were found to only use complementary medicines and shun conventional treatment.
A separate study also found that many parents of children with cancer (30%) also reported giving complementary medicines to their kids.
Studies in the United States, and across other European countries, found similarly high rates of complementary medicine use among cancer patient
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