Complementary cancer therapies linked to reduced survival

Cancer patients who use complementary therapies may be more likely to shun conventional treatments and risk their chances of survival, research suggests.

A study of 1,290 patients in the US found people who received such therapies often refused life-saving care such as chemotherapy or surgery. Fewer of them survived five years after starting treatment compared to those on standard care, researchers found. Experts urged patients not to ditch proven cancer medicines.

Researchers said the use of complementary therapies, which range from diets, minerals and vitamin infusions to yoga and acupuncture, was growing in the US but there was limited research on how effective they are. Their study, published in JAMA Oncology, looked at 258 patients who had used complementary therapies with at least one standard treatment, compared to 1,032 who only received conventional care.