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The Impact of Complementary and Alternative Medicines on Cancer Symptoms, Treatment Side Effects, Quality of Life, and Survival in Women With Breast Cancer—A Systematic Review

Leggett, S., Koczwara, B., Miller, M.
Nutrition and cancer 2015 v.67 no.3 pp. 373-391
Ganoderma lucidum, adverse effects, breast neoplasms, databases, dietitians, glutamine, mortality, oral administration, powders, quality of life, randomized clinical trials, systematic review, toxicity, women
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer amongst women. Women with breast cancer frequently consult dietitians for advice, and increasingly advice on complementary alternative medicines (CAM). The aim of this systematic review was to evaluate evidence of CAM administered orally on cancer-related outcomes. Databases were searched for studies recruiting women with a history of breast cancer reporting on the use of CAM administered orally as tablets, capsules, powders, and liquids for any 1 or more of the following: alleviation of cancer-related symptoms and treatment side effects, improvement to quality of life, physical and emotional wellbeing, survival, and mortality. Twenty-two studies were identified as meeting the inclusion criteria. Ten CAM categories were established with no more than 4 articles published in each category. Although the evidence is of varying quality there is some data to support that guarana and Ganoderma lucidum may improve fatigue, whereas glutamine may also be effective in improving oral mucositis symptoms. Overall, the current available evidence is inconclusive to make definitive recommendations regarding the effectiveness for individuals’ use of CAM in women with breast cancer. Further high-quality randomized controlled trials exploring safety, toxicity, and other potential adverse effects of CAM are required.