Complementary therapies snubbed

Use of complementary therapies is "surprisingly" low among British cancer patients, a study suggests.

A survey of 200 patients in London found only one in five used alternative medicine and most of those did not think it would cure them. Similar studies from the US had shown use was as high as 80%, the researchers at Hammersmith Hospital said. The study also found patients have a high level of faith in their doctors and their treatment.

Study leader Professor Jonathan Waxman said because of the widespread publicity around complementary medicine he would have expected to see a much higher take up. Yet only 22% of people questioned - across a wide range of ages and cancer types - had supplemented their conventional treatments. Among those who had tried alternative therapies, the most common were multivitamins, with selenium, omega-3 preparations and homeopathy also popular choices, the Quarterly Journal of Medicine reported.

Patients surveyed rarely spend more than £100 in total on complementary medicine and most of those who used it said it should be available on the NHS. Of those using complementary therapies, 61% thought there was more evidence for conventional medicine and two-thirds thought that it would be conventional medicine that cured them.

Source - BBC


  1. With Cancers as the main illness in this survey, it's not surprising that most would prefer conventional medicine. I would too.
    But they have missed the point here; the word 'complementary'. It does not mean alternative or cure and most therapists I know and work with would never advocate using their practised therapy alone in these circumstances.
    It would be interesting to know the figures for less devastating problems.

  2. I think it's also about how disempowered people feel when they hear the C word. You give yourself over to the diagnosis, and the doctors and nurses. Sometimes I think the diagnosis of cancer is a bit like the old "pointing the bones", a lot of people give up.