The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence of England is dedicated to finding new treatments for cancer patients. One of their recommendations has been for cancer patients to take nutritional supplements to improve their prognosis.
That suggestion has been accepted for a long time. However, a new study may disprove that theory.
Christine Baldwin is a lecturer at the medical school at King’s College in London, specializing in Diabetes and Nutritional Sciences. Baldwin and her coauthors have researched the Institute’s claim in more detail. They conducted 13 separate trials on cancer patients receiving nutritional supplements.
The research Baldwin’s team conducted found that nutritional supplements didn’t extend their life expectancy. Although the supplements did improve some of their conditions, the benefits were not consistent. For example, some patients were able to use nutritional supplements to improve their weight and energy levels. Baldwin suggested that additional research would need to be conducted to assess the value that they would bring to some patients.
Guidelines established in the England and other developed countries throughout the world have found that deteriorating nutrition has a significant correlation with a reduced quality of life. However, the study pointed out that no causal relationship has been proven in any other study. Therefore, the guidelines proposed by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, the United States Department of Agriculture and other health and nutritional agencies around the world may not be giving patients effective advice.
One of the problems clinicians face is that they are forced to base their treatment procedures on the findings of limited research studies. Investigating the prognosis for cancer patients as a group can be difficult for researchers, because cancer patients respond to treatments differently. National Cancer Institute spokespersons Ann O’Mara and Diane St. Germain said that it is imperative that researchers select the right patients for the trials they conduct.
O’Mara and Germain stated that nutritional supplements were frequently recommended for patients because they didn’t appear to cause any harm. However, they also added that no research has concluded who has benefited. Along with Baldwin, they are insistant that more research will need to be done to determine the value nutritional supplements offer to cancer patients.