Chemotherapy Patients Should Exercise Caution in Taking Herbal Supplements

In our Frequently Asked Questions section, we previously addressed the question, “Can I take any nutritional supplements during chemotherapy?” by noting the potential beneficial and adverse effects that might arise from use of supplements, and by suggesting a candid discussion with treating physicians. However, the New York Attorney General recently noted that consumers of supplements have more than just medication interactions to be concerned about. Genetic testing of supplements sold at GNC, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart revealed that only 21% of supplements actually contained the herbal ingredient listed on the labels—at Walmart it was only 4%. Moreover, 35% of products tested contained DNA from plants not listed on the labels. Said Attorney General Schneiderman,

“The DNA test results seem to confirm long-standing questions about the herbal supplement industry. Mislabeling, contamination, and false advertising are illegal. They also pose unacceptable risks to New York families—especially those with allergies to hidden ingredients.”

These findings highlight an extraordinary lack of oversight in the supplement industry, which some manufacturers exploit routinely. We have therefore amended our FAQ section to include this potential concern, and we continue to advocate for open discussions between patients and physicians.

Author: lymphomaprogram

Located on the Upper East Side of New York City, the Lymphoma Program at Weill Cornell Medical College/NewYork Presbyterian Hospital is internationally recognized for our efforts to enable patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Hodgkin disease and related disorders to have the best possible clinical outcome, including cure when possible.

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