~ Lung Cancer Patients Who Take Vitamin Supplements Experience Improved Survival

Mayo Clinic study finds lung cancer patients who take vitamin supplements experience improved survival and quality of life

A study published in the July 2005 issue of the journal Lung Cancer (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/01695002) found that men and women with non-small cell lung cancer who took vitamin and mineral supplements following their diagnosis experienced double the average survival time and better quality of life compared to those who did not use supplements.

The current study followed 1,129 individuals with non-small cell lung cancer who were a part of the Mayo Clinic lung cancer cohort. Participants completed questionnaires concerning vitamin and mineral supplement use, cancer treatment and progression, and quality of life six months after diagnosis, at one year, and yearly thereafter through the fall of 2002. The patients' treatments were not influenced by participation in the study, and consisted of surgery, radiaiton, chemotherapy and/or supportive care based on tumor stage, co-existing conditions and health status.

Sixty-three percent of the participants reported using vitamin/mineral supplements during the follow-up period. Median survival in the supplement group was 4.3 years compared to 2 years among those who were nonusers. After adjustment for a number of factors, the relative risk of dying experienced by supplement users over the course of the study was calculated to be 26 percent lower than that of those who did not use supplements. Quality of life was also reported as greater among those who used supplements than those who did not.

The authors write that, to their knowledge, the question, "Are these supplements helping or hurting cancer patients?" had never been answered in a large group of cancer patients, particularly among those with non-small cell lung cancer. They conclude, "The present study provides sufficiently compelling data to invite further investigation of vitamins/mineral supplements as adjunctive therapy for cancer patients in a clinical trial setting and to underscore the need for patients to participate in current ongoing trials."

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