Cancer patients should tell their doctors if they are taking herbal products because some of the ingredients may stop their treatment from working, a cancer conference has heard.
For example, pills of garlic, ginger and ginkgo may delay the healing of skin wounds when breast cancer has spread.
Surgeon Prof. Maria Joao Cardoso stated that there was no evidence that herbal therapies or creams were working.
If in doubt, it's best not to take anything, she said.
"Doctors need to be more active in asking their patients what else they are receiving when they are being treated for cancer," Prof. Cardoso, chief breast surgeon at the Cancer Center Champalio in Lisbon, Portugal, told the BBC.
She said it was especially important that patients always consult their physicians before attempting additional therapies for cancer that has spread to the skin.
This happens in one in five cases of breast cancer ̵
The danger is that many products can interfere with hormone therapy or chemotherapy treatments, and some prolong the blood clotting process – which can lead to wounds being removed, long time and bigger scars.  She cited the following herbal products as examples of those that delay clotting:
- green herbs
- horse chestnut
"Do no harm"
Prof. Cardozo said it's not surprising that patients and their caregivers are looking to seek complementary or alternative treatments that could make a difference.
But she said people should know "that they can finish.
"The highest goal in medicine is to remember: do no harm," she says.
On its website, Cancer Research UK says that some additional therapies may stop conventional treatments from working as well as they should.
It is also said that it is important to avoid certain foods and drinks such as grapefruit and oranges during cancer treatment because they can affect how well the cancer drugs are broken down in the body.
The charity says, "Talk to your Doctor about any additional therapies you intend to use. Tell them before you start additional therapy, especially if you are in the middle of a cancer treatment course. "
Grete Brauten-Smith, Clinical Nurse Specialist at the charity Breast Cancer Now said:" With the very unproven information available online and the lack of reliable research on these products, discussion with a healthcare professional can guarantee the patient with accurate information, who needs to make informed choices. "
Speaking at the Fifth International Consensus Conference on Breast Cancer, Prof. Cardozo stated that therapies such as yoga, mindfulness, reiki and acupuncture can have a positive effect on the quality of breast cancer. life of patients.