The American cancer industry has got vitamins in its sights. The first salvo has been an exploratory paper, funded by the National Cancer Institute, which has investigated the health habits of people after they have been diagnosed with cancer.
Not surprisingly, around 10 million cancer patients in the USA are regularly taking vitamin and mineral supplements - and yet 68 per cent of their doctors are not aware they are doing so.
Up to 32 per cent of cancer patients initiate their own nutritional regime after diagnosis without consulting their doctors, the paper says - and the most likely patient to start taking vitamins is an educated woman who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
In the 32 papers the researchers analysed, vitamin usage among cancer patients was as high as 81 per cent, while up to 77 per cent use a multivitamin.
But, ask the researchers, are the vitamins doing more harm than good, and are they making their conventional therapy more toxic (as if)?
Watch out for a 'doctor knows best' health message any time soon.
(Source: Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2008; 26: 665-73).