Which supplements are worthwhile?

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Question from Cynic: I have read about various supplements, with and without doctors' names attached to them, that describe remarkable benefits for overall health, and breast cancer specifically. How does someone know what's worthwhile, and what's not?
Answers - Beth Baughman DuPree, M.D., F.A.C.S. This is one of the most difficult areas in healthcare to truly navigate. Because there's no regulation of these supplements, it is hard to know exactly what you're getting for your very hard-earned dollar. There are some physicians who will attach their names to a specific supplement in order to help promote those specific brands, but because the FDA does not regulate the production and manufacturing of these, again it is very hard to know exactly what you are getting from those products. Several years ago, I was approached by a healthcare provider that wanted to attach my name to a set of vitamins in the hope that my thousands of patients would purchase those supplements. But I do not believe that promoting a supplement to my patients is something that I would ever want to be associated with. The recommendations that I make to my patients about diet, vitamins, and antioxidants are general recommendations, not specific brand names or labels.
Gary Deng When choosing a vitamin or supplement, try to rely on information that is based on scientific research, not on personal testimony. There are national level information clearing houses that offer information free of commercial bias. For example, you can go to the web pages of the National Cancer Institute Office of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Or go to the American Cancer Society, or the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, or go to MedlinePlus where scientific evidence regarding specific herbs and supplements is presented.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Vitamins and Herbal Supplements featured Gary Deng, M.D., Ph.D. and moderator Beth Baughman DuPree, M.D., F.A.C.S. answering your questions about how to safely and sensibly incorporate vitamins and supplements into your diet.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in July 2007.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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