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When a mysterious illness strikes, people can get more accessible to using complementary and alternative treatment (CAM) to get well.

This can also be the case should the illness is actually a severe one. Cancer patients often explore alternatives such as naturopathy (TCM), homeopathy or items like herbs and vitamins inside the thought they can strengthen their immunity or fight the ailment.

Two recent studies carried out in Singapore acknowledge the widespread utilization of CAM among people here and conclude that CAM may sometimes do more damage than good.


One of your studies found out that the utilization of CAM brought about a delay in patients seeking medical help for early inflammatory arthritis or early stage of arthritis rheumatoid.

Inflammatory and osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are autoimmune diseases that cause chronic inflammation of your joints and also other body parts. These are different from osteoarthritis – the most prevalent way of arthritis – that is certainly wear and tear with the cartilage.

Osteoarthritis might cause joint damage requiring joint replacement. It\’s not necessarily cured with disease- modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARD) as it\’s a wear-and-tear problem but not inflammation.

(Also read: Why Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis Early Can be so Important)

In the research into 180 patients with early inflammatory arthritis, 74 patients (41 %) used CAM before traversing to a specialist.

CAM users tended to obstruct treatment by an extra 6 weeks, as compared to non-CAM users. The analysis found out that the median time from symptom onset to starting the very first dose of anti-rheumatic medication was 15.About six weeks for non-CAM users and 21.5 weeks for CAM users.

Oral tablets or powder (55 per-cent) and acupuncture (47 per-cent) were the most common different types of alternative medicine used.

Researchers observed that the old arthritis rheumatoid is treated, the higher end result.

“There’s a window of opportunity for treatment of early arthritis. Several months or less is considered early arthritis – it’s much easier to let down the immune trigger,” said Dr Manjari Lahiri, the study’s lead author including a senior consultant at National University Hospital’s division of rheumatology.

Research reveals that as many as 60 per-cent of early arthritis sufferers might be into remission after six to A year to become treated with DMARD, she said. To make certain, treatment solutions are assessed and medication continually adjusted.

“The remainder of the 40 % stand a good chance of avoiding major joint damage and the requirement for joint replacements.”

Aside from joint damage and disability, patients who delay starting medication will finish up needing joint replacement surgery (for permanently damaged joints).

An estimated 25,000 to 50,000 folks in Singapore have arthritis but not many be aware of it may be treatable. “People equate it with rheumatism, is not considered an important disease,” said Dr Lahiri. Rheumatism is usually a term frequently used for feeling achy.

If you could have spongy swellings over several joints and feel a “niggling pain” or in many cases are tired, perhaps it is rheumatoid arthritis, she said.

“It’s not just this, patients feel distressed as their is inflamed. Their hands and wrists get affected, so turning it knob and opening a jar can be tough. As soon as they arise, they believe stiff.”

Dr Lahiri added: “Patients should avoid tablets and powders once we don’t know their content, the way they talk with Western medicine as well as toxicity they can cause.”

(Also read: The best way to Tell If Back problems is Serious & Needs Medical care)


In another CAM-related study, it had become discovered that a final decision aid – a booklet that discusses CAM and be it safe – may limit the use of such medicine among cancer patients.

It may encourage patients to talk about the application of CAM with oncologists. “CAM is traditionally used by patients doing chemotherapy treatment, numerous analysts really don\’t inform their oncologists about this,” said Dr Chong Wan Qin, part consultant oncologist while using National University Cancer Institute, Singapore, and the study’s lead author.

The ongoing study, were only available in 2014, recruited 240 cancer patients with an average period of 55 years. Many had breast, colorectal or lung cancers, which are mostly during the advanced stage.

Up to twenty percent of which used oral CAM whilst on chemotherapy. The most typical were supplements and vitamins (40 per cent of patients) and TCM (30 per-cent).

(Also read: Why Your Dad’s Genes Affects The chances of you Getting Cancer of the breast)

Reasons given by patients were which they desired to cure the cancer or do more to handle it (35 per-cent), boost immunity (30 %) and improve well-being (20 per cent).

There is emerging evidence that some sorts of complementary therapy may help patients take care of one side negative effects of cancer treatment. Acupuncture has been shown in trials to the office while in the treatment of vomiting and nausea because of chemotherapy, for example.

However, doctors really don\’t advise patients to adopt alternative drugs since they could become harmful.

Some herbs is able to reduce the potency of chemotherapy treatment whilst others might increase the unintended effects of chemotherapy. Some herbs could also become drugs and cause unwanted effects when drawn in high doses.

Dr Chong said one example is ginseng, sometimes, a person harmless natural product. Running might cause headaches and blood pressure level.

Ginseng can also cause certain chemotherapy drugs to function less well, she said.

“Oncologists have likewise heard of patients using coffee enema. It is really not backed by medical evidence and may even cause diarrhoea and electrolyte loss.”

Vitamin C infusion is yet another example without the need of evidence to aid its usefulness.

(Also read: 13 Vitamins & Minerals That assist You are Slimmer, Stronger & More Energetic)

Dr Chong has seen patients who want to test alternative therapies, like a special ketogenic diet, as an alternative to taking chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments.

Because all cancers contain a better potential for control and survival outcomes when treated early, the moment these patients returned for chemotherapy, their cancer had progressed and impaired a few of their organ functions, she said.

When the organ functions are impaired, chemotherapy poses high risk of toxicity, she said.

The by using CAM may delay treating serious diseases and that could lead to negative effects.

A sort of this informative article appeared inside the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2017, using the headline ‘More damage than good’.
(Also read: Can Using Talc Products Really Cause Cancer?)

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