In US alone, 1.5 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year. This rising trend in cancer susceptibility has made people turn to other alternative methods of treatment. Many people today intake vitamins and supplements as an integrative medicine to strengthen the immune system and help to ease the side effects arising out of radiation and chemotherapy. Learning its proper use, identifying the ingredients and understanding which ones will effectively aide you in your condition is important. Thus you must make informed choices.
Various Supplements to Boost your Immune System
Although your immune system is designed to identify abnormal cells, it is unable to do so during the early stage of cancer as the surface markers make it impossible for the immune system to identify. Supplements are important not to treat cancer, but instead to fight cancer, as cancer patients are more susceptible to infections and diseases.
Here are a few supplements and vitamins that are ideal to build your immune system during cancer.
- Vitamin D: It is one of the most studied supplements for cancer prevention as well as treatment. It plays an important role in the cell development and studies show that level of vitamin D in cancer patients is relatively low, although the results of varied studies are mixed. Vitamin D is also associated with protection against prostate cancer.
- Green Tea: Green tea constitutes of polyphenols which have powerful anti-cancer qualities. Cancer in any part of the body is caused due to rapid multiplication of cells, for which it relies on the dense blood vessel network. Green tea inhibits the fast growth of these blood vessels, thus preventing rapid growth. A study carried out on women suffering from ovarian cancer showed that in women who consumed green tea the survival rate increased by 3 years.
- Antioxidants: Antioxidants are found mainly in fruits and vegetables and also in nuts and grains. They are phytochemicals which fight with the free radicals in the body. Free radicals are oxygen molecules which contribute to the damage of DNA that cause the proliferation and development of cancerous cells. Some of the common antioxidants include vitamin C, A and E, melotonin and selenium.
The following substances are considered ideal for relieving cancer treatment side effects such as nausea, vomiting and nerve pain etc. But remember that every cancer is different according to the kind of cancer and its stage, thus you must consult with your doctor and devise a dietary plan for intake of these supplement in order to ensure that it does not affect your cancer treatment.
- Iron: Fatigue is a common problem in those suffering from cancer; the treatment causes further severe fatigue. It is one of the most common side effects experienced due to cancer treatment. The treatments damage the cells responsible for production of red blood cells in the bone marrow which leads to iron deficiency anemia and thus the fatigue. Intake of iron is essential for the hemoglobin level in the blood cells thus relieving fatigue.
- L-Glutamine: Nerve damage or peripheral neuropathy is a common side effect of cancer prescription drug, specially the widely used paclitaxel. This drug is used to treat a number of cancers such as ovarian cancer, lung cancer and breast cancer, but causes peripheral neuropathy as a side effect. There is pain, tingling and numbness caused due to this drug. L-glutamine is an amino acid which has been shown in varied studies to relieve pain associated with peripheral neuropathy.
- Ginger: Chemotherapy induces vomiting and nausea which lead to weight loss, fatigue and nutritional deficiency in many. Although there are many anti-nausea drugs available, patients also take ginger to relieve nausea. It can be taken either stand alone or with other anti-nausea medications.
Although these supplements are said to be effective, it is always best to check with your healthcare team and only after doing thorough research should you consume these supplements. Do not get fooled by advertisements and hype, only rely on authentic scientifically backed supplements.
Michelle Tyler is a freelance healthcare writer with more than 10 years experience in the healthcare communications field. A Certified Medical Assistant, she works with the Local Media group to research and report on the latest medical breakthroughs.
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