Cancer Management May Include Complementary and Alternative Therapies

By: Jody Smith

The thought of cancer can provoke a feeling of helplessness. But you don't have to feel like a target, waiting for cancer to start turning in your direction.

The Mayo Clinic website has offered some suggestions of ways that you may be able to prevent cancer.

Tobacco shows up as a risk factor for many cancers, the most well-known being lung cancer. It is also a risk factor for bladder, kidney and cervical cancer. Chewing tobacco raises the risk for pancreatic cancer and oral cancers. Second hand smoke is also considered a risk factor.

Eating well can reduce your risk for cancer. The Mayo Clinic advised keeping alcohol consumption moderate at most, to reduce your risk for breast, colon, kidney, liver and lung cancer.

Moderate exercise half an hour or more in a day will reduce your risk for colon or breast cancer. Getting enough exercise also helps keep a healthy weight which will also decrease your risk for breast, colon, kidney, and lung cancer.

To lower your risk for skin cancer, the Mayo Clinic advocated that you stay in the shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Wear bright or dark clothing in the sun. Use sunscreen when you must be in the sun for prolonged periods and stay away from sunlamps and tanning beds.

If despite your best efforts, you develop cancer, complementary and alternative medicine may help you deal with it. Acupuncture, dietary changes and dietary supplements, herbal or botanical therapies, yoga and massage are avenues that many people explore.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has cautioned not to give up conventional treatments. Still, bringing in some appropriate complementary and alternative treatments may prove to be beneficial.

Keep your doctor in the know about what complementary or alternative therapies you are using, or are thinking of using. Some supplements can work against cancer treatments, so it's important for your doctor to be informed.

A National Health Interview Survey from 2007 indicated that approximately 38 percent, so more than one-third of adults, have experience with some types of complementary or alternative treatments.

A National Health Interview Survey from 2002 reported that people who had been diagnosed with cancer are the most likely to pursue complementary and alternative treatments.

Approximately 40 percent of people who had survived cancer had used CAM. Multiple CAM treatments had been used by 18 percent of cancer survivors.

The treatments used most were natural products like herbal supplements at 20 percent. Deep breathing was used by 14 percent of those surveyed. Meditation was used by 9 percent.

The most common scenario is that a cancer patient is attempting to strengthen their immune system and reduce any pain levels they've been experiencing. Expectation that the CAM will cure the cancer is not one of the top reasons for its use. Patients may be trying to alleviate side effects from conventional treatment they're receiving, or from the cancer itself.

Sources:

Cancer prevention: 7 tips to reduce your risk

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cancer-prevention/CA00024

Cancer Prevention

http://www.who.int/cancer/prevention/en

Cancer and CAM: At a Glance

http://nccam.nih.gov/health/cancer/camcancer.htm

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