Alternative therapies for cancer
This study was not designed to directly compare non-conventional therapies with conventional ones, and the results do not mean that all unproven remedies are useless. In fact, an unproven treatment may become conventional if rigorous research proves its worth. There are many types of alternative treatments (including herbs, vitamins, homeopathy, yoga, and acupuncture) that might have different effects and have not yet been well studied. Importantly, this study did not examine the interaction of conventional and alternative treatments (which in some cases may cause problems). In addition, this study did not actually find that complementary treatments along with conventional treatments were harmful. But it did suggest that relying on unproven remedies instead of conventional therapies might be. Finally, this study did not examine all types of cancer, all types of treatments, or the impact of treatment on quality of life. Different results might have been observed if other outcomes of interest (such as quality of life) had been included. The bottom line If you have cancer and are interested in herbs, acupuncture, or other alternative treatments, talk to your doctor. Think twice before declining conventional treatments. But if you do decline recommended treatment, make sure you understand the pros and cons of doing so, including the possibility of shorter survival. Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling The post Alternative therapies for cancer appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
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