Dr. Donald Abrams has a background in complementary and alternative therapies. He uses this approach in his treatment of cancer patients. He believes there's a place for supplements, but it's important to choose the right ones for a given situation. For most of his cancer patients, though he recommends supplements of vitamin D3, omega-3 fatty acids, as well as calcium and magnesium.
Dr. Abrams is chief of Hematology and Oncology at San Fransisco General Hospital.
(Transcribed from video interview)
All the studies that are done looking at, “Can we reduce the risk of cancer with supplements,” are suggesting not, suggesting that we are better off consuming a phytonutrient-rich diet. For example, all during the winter, a little yellow in my palms and in my skin. People tell me, “Oh yeah, you have a great tan. Where have you been?” Well, I consume a lot of beta-carotene. I don’t take a beta-carotene supplement because, I hate to admit this as an oncologist, but I used to smoke cigarettes, and huge studies of thousands of people have shown that supplementing with vitamin A or beta-carotene in former cigarette smokers or current smokers leads to an increased risk of lung cancer; seems like totally counter intuitive, but it does.
So, you know, I think we have to be careful with supplements. For my patients with cancer, I do recommend, however, that they all take vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is the sunshine vitamin and we all seem to be deficient in vitamin D3, and I think vitamin D3 is very beneficial for aging people and particularly for people with cancer. So I recommend either measuring your level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 or supplementing with 1000 to 2000 International Units of vitamin D3 daily and because I recommend that my patients don’t consume dairy products, I also recommend that people take a calcium-magnesium supplement.
The other supplement that I think is useful in the fight against cancer is omega-3 fatty acids. Again, these are anti-inflammatory and I think are a good environment for a cancer patient to have.