Cancer survivors are turning to complementary and alternative medicine in increasing numbers to manage the short-term and long-term effects of their conditions.
Thus, researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) have concluded in a study that having a chronic medical condition such as cancer is the primary factor in a person's decision to use dietary supplements.
For the study, the NCI researchers assessed the records of more than 9,000 people.
It was discovered that adults with cancer or other chronic conditions were more prone to use supplements than people reporting no illness.
The researchers said that cancer was directly linked with use of vitamins, whereas people living with other chronic conditions were more likely to use a wide variety of supplements.
"A diagnosis of cancer by itself does not have an independent effect on supplement use," wrote the researchers.
They added that most supplement use among cancer survivors seem to be intended to prevent or lessen related conditions.
"These results indicate that having a chronic medical condition is the major factor associated with supplement use.... Consumers and health professionals should be aware that there is limited information on the effects of dietary supplements taken concurrently with prescription and other over-the-counter medications," concluded the researchers.
The study is published in the recent issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.