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Dietary Supplements

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People take dietary supplements — vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals — for all kinds of reasons and with many different expectations. Besides hoping to improve your overall nutrition and sense of well-being, if you have had breast cancer you want to do everything you can to regain your strength through and beyond treatment, as well as reduce your risk of ever getting breast cancer again. Many people living with breast cancer hope to slow down or reverse the course of the disease.

It's hard to know what to believe about which supplements to take if you're hearing different things from the media, friends, and family. Some supplements, such as multivitamin and mineral tablets that meet federal requirements for quality and quantity, can benefit your general health. Other supplements may be unregulated, and some may even interfere with some breast cancer treatments. It's important to know that no dietary supplement treats or cures cancer.

Vitamins, minerals, botanicals, amino acids, and herbs are all considered dietary supplements by the United States government. They are taken by mouth and intended to supplement the diet. They can come in many forms, including liquids, pills, powders, tablets, and gel caps.

The government puts supplements in a special category. They are not considered medications and are not subject to the same regulations and testing that medications are.

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Expert Quote

"Though I take supplements, I still believe the overall health benefits I am receiving from my nine-plus servings of fruits and vegetables and one to three serving of soy foods each day are even more important than the benefits of these supplements. If I were forced to choose only one approach, I would put my money on maximizing my diet for the largest potential benefit."

 — Diana Dyer, M.S., RD

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