Should I Take Vitamins, Herbs or Follow a Special Diet During Breast Cancer Treatment?

R.D. Sally Scroggs answers the question: 'Vitamins/Herbs During Treatment?'

— -- Question: Should I take any vitamins, herbs, or follow a special diet to help my body better cope with the chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer?

Answer: Well, the special diet you would want to follow would certainly include a balanced intake where you're getting the nutrients that you need because the treatment is certainly a stress on your body whether it's chemotherapy treatment, whether it's surgery, whether it's radiation or a combination of all of those. These put a special requirement on your body, you may need an extra amount of protein which will provide calories that you need in excess. You may need an extra amount of calories which are picking nutrient dense foods, then you would also be getting the extra nutrients that you would need to combat the effects of the treatment and to be able to get through the treatment, recovery quickly, be able to take the doses that are required on a particular regimen.

So this trying to get what you need, which in itself can be a challenge because there may be some side effects to the treatment. Sometimes supplements are indicated, especially if you're not able to take in what you need and that can be analyzed by the dietician, for example, to look at your intake, select the supplements that would be appropriate. You'd want to be careful of not self-diagnosing or medicating.

Particularly there is some controversy right now taking antioxidants, especially with some of the chemo treatments that they use for breast cancer that have a proposed mechanism of having an oxidative process. Well, if you have a treatment to kill the cancer cells that uses an oxidative process, then you don't want to be taking large amounts of antioxidants.

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