Thanks in large part to the Internet, cancer patients and their families now have the opportunity to do extensive research on their condition and treatment options, including nontraditional therapies. Some estimates suggest that one-third of cancer patients try some form of nontraditional therapy during or after their battle with cancer. The true percentage may actually be much higher. Unfortunately, the Internet lacks the capability to truly scout information that is most helpful for patients. Likewise, patients are often too intimidated to broach the subject of nontraditional methods with their oncologist due to concerns about their doctor's rebuttal. Fortunately, research and data are highlighting supplemental nutrients that support the fight against cancer. These nutrients should be considered when designing a comprehensive cancer treatment program.

Vitamin D may be the most important supplement for fighting cancer. Research on Vitamin D and its benefits to the body has exploded in the past few years, and it's now linked to the prevention or improved survival rate of several cancers including breast, prostate, lung, colon, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, pancreatic and many others [Source: Carlson, Bindemann, Lappe, Lowe, Skinner, Francis]. The best source of vitamin D is the sun, and it does not take long to achieve the necessary exposure. You don't need to burn your skin to get vitamin D, but if you are inside during the peak sunshine hours, you probably aren't getting enough. Vitamin D is cost-effective in supplement form, and levels can be checked through a blood test called a 25-OH vitamin D (25-hydroxy vitamin D) level. It benefits many other aspects of the body including the heart, immune system and bone density and the list keeps growing.  

Turmeric may offer a simple, spicy way to strengthen the body. Turmeric comes from the spice curry, and research continues to demonstrate significant possibilities in its relation to cancer. Turmeric is known for its protective effects against inflammation and may work against multiple types of cancer through a variety of mechanisms [Source: Berwick, Nakagawa]. The spice can be taken as a capsule and is tolerated very well. Dosage recommendations are typically 500-1,000 mg daily. In addition, curry can always be added to any meal.

Fish oils play a role in the prevention of cancer as well as many other diseases. Many studies have documented the benefits of fish oils linked to cancers including breast and prostate [Source: Di, Sansom, Sun]. Research even suggests that fish oils may help increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy [Source: Hedelin]. To achieve a proper dosage of fish oil, add the components EPA and DHA listed under the ingredients, with a goal sum of 1,500-2,000 mg daily.

Green tea holds significant potential in cancer treatments as well. Like the other nutrients, green tea is showing promise for several different types of cancers [Source: Courtney, Pardini, Sartippour]. This staple beverage of Japan, where consumption might be ten small cups or more a day, should be brewed and not contain added high fructose corn syrup. Dosage should be at least 2-3 cups for those already diagnosed with cancer. Capsules of green tea extract are also available. Try to target 200 mg per capsule, 2-3 capsules a day.

Maitake, shitake and reishi mushrooms have long been considered beneficial against cancer. These mushrooms are highly regarded in the Far East, especially Japan. Their profit may actually come in their ability to benefit the body’s immune system [Source: Hsu, Ji]. The body's immune cells are responsible for traveling through the body, scavenging any cells that look suspicious (like cancer cells). Maintaining a strong immune system may help the body be better prepared to fight cells undergoing cancerous changes. These mushrooms may also help protect against the toxicity of chemotherapy [Source: Kodama]. Dosage is typically 2-3 capsules a day. These should not be used by anyone who has had an organ transplant or who is on immunosuppressive therapy, since these supplements can boost the immune system.

This list is meant to suggest certain nutrients that might be helpful in cancer treatment and to demonstrate that there is significant research attesting to their effect. With so many vitamins, supplements and other therapies offered for cancer, it is often hard to know how to navigate through these choices.  Unfortunately, many of the options advertised for cancer are worthless.  It should be noted, that all of the options discussed do have data to support their use, and most importantly, can all be obtained through natural sources in the diet or lifestyle. Supplements are just that; supplements to a healthy diet and an ever-improving lifestyle.