About Cancer Nutrition and Supplements

Choosing to take supplements during cancer care can be a very good idea, BUT it is important to make good choices.

Reflections BoutiqueAn appropriate supplement regimen can help reduce the toxicity of conventional therapy and contribute to your overall quality of life. Unfortunately, designing the best program can be complicated. Your oncologist will be concerned and want to ensure that your complementary treatments not interfere with the effectiveness of conventional treatments.  If supplements oppose the action of chemotherapy or interact with either the uptake or elimination of a drug then they may not be safe.

It will take expert advice to minimize the risk of interfering with your conventional cancer care or other pharmaceutical medications. The integrative oncology specialists at the Simms/Mann-UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology are first and foremost scientists who read and evaluate the literature on supplements to identify those that contribute to your cancer treatment without diminishing its effectiveness. By integrating knowledge of the method of action of conventional medication and the actions of the complementary medications, the integrative oncology specialists at the Simms/Mann-UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology can help you tailor the best program for you, your type of cancer, and the treatment you are getting.

Our integrative oncology specialists also take into account things that are unique and important to you. Patients in Southern California come from a wide diversity of ethnic backgrounds. There may be traditional ways that your community would treat you while you are sick and we can work with you to incorporate those practices into your regimen as in the most useful way.

Even after the right supplements are chosen, you will still need advice about dosage and exactly which product to take. If you have tried to go to your local health food store lately, you’ll know how complicated it can be to select what you need from the literally thousands of products available. This final step of getting the correct product for your condition can be the trickiest of all.  If you don’t get a good quality product, then all of the planning may not give you the benefit you desire.

Supplement quality is a very important consideration at the Simms/Mann-UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology. Unfortunately, it can be hard to identify quality by price or from the label alone. Sadly, price does not guarantee or insure high quality. Also, some websites and literature provide biased or inaccurate information.

There are many good quality supplements on the market and while many manufacturers do provide high quality substances that are appropriately labeled and standardized, not everyone is honest or equally committed to quality. This makes it difficult for you, the consumer. It can be helpful to read the label and to look for certain things on the label. Even a good label doesn’t guarantee a good product, but an incorrect or incomplete label would raise concerns about the quality of that product.

Here are some of the things to look for on the label:

  • Brand Name/Name of the plant – a good company gives you the Latin name of the plant in addition to its common name
  • Claim for how the supplement may be used – this is what they are allowed to claim by law regarding the benefit of the product
  • How it is standardized – Good information to have but not always available
  • What portion is standardized and to what standard
  • What portion is not standardized
  • How many tablets/capsules and the size (milligrams) of the tablet/capsule
  • Other Ingredients – this should tell you what else is used with the active ingredient
  • Directions for Use – how much to take and how often
  • How to store the supplement
  • Distributed by – who distributes the herb or supplement and how they can be reached
  • Expiration Date – this is not required, but it shows that a company has tested how long their supplement remains active before it degrades
  • Lot Number – this is not required, but provides a way to trace back how and when it was manufactured and to assist in determining who may be affected by a problem if one develops in the future.

To make this final selection easier for you, our integrative oncology specialists have identified a group of products that are often recommended to cancer patients. These products are from companies with excellent reputations for high standards and good product quality. In addition, many of them only sell to licensed practitioners, so they are usually more concentrated than products available to the general public. Where possible, we have chosen products which have been tested in clinical trials. Otherwise, we have chosen products which most closely resemble those tested clinically. Reflections Boutique carries only those products (nutritional supplements, vitamins, minerals and herbs) recommended by the integrative oncology specialists at the Simms/Mann-UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology.

We encourage you to see our Integrative Oncology Specialists to guide you in your choices. We do offer online purchasing of supplements, but you will need an access code that is provided by our Integrative Oncology Specialists to use this service. You are also invited to come to our boutique and see what is available.

If you do not wish to purchase products online, for your convenience, products can be purchased in person or by mail after faxing in an order form.

It is our intention to give you high quality products so that you can be as well and healthy as possible.