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Cancer patients pray, use herbs, but quietly

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Cancer patients pray, use herbs, but quietly

Posted: June 07, 2004

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Eighty-five percent of U.S. cancer patients turn to prayer when they learn they have cancer, U.S. researchers said on Sunday.

A study of 750 patients around the country found that most use prayer, relaxation techniques, exercise and sometimes herbs or megavitamins on top of their medical therapies.

"We were a bit surprised by how many people were using these techniques," said Jennifer Yates, an information analyst at the University of Rochester in New York who led the study.

"And we don't really know why they're using them -- to beat the cancer or to ease the side effects of treatment. Those are questions we still have to ask."

Speaking to a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in New Orleans, Yates said 85 percent of the patients surveyed used prayer as a cancer treatment technique.

"It's not surprising that people facing serious illnesses pray, or have others praying for them. They believe it may have a positive impact on their overall health and well-being," said Yates, whose work was funded by the National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society.

About a quarter of those surveyed said they used large doses of vitamins or changed their diets to improve their health.

Just last week the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, one of the National Institutes of Health, released a report saying more than 60 percent of Americans overall used prayer or other alternative or complementary therapies.

But most of the patients said they never mentioned these outside techniques to their doctors.

"The typical doctor-patient encounter often leaves no room or time for a discussion of alternative and complementary therapies," said Rochester oncologist Dr. Jennifer Griggs.

"In addition, many patients do not want to discuss issues of spirituality with their doctors. On the other hand, it is important that patients tell their doctors what herbs or other medications they are taking to prevent interactions between cancer therapies and their complementary therapies."

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I for one could never imagine with Cancer how one could or would ignore prayer.I realize there will be those that will blame GOD or be angry at GOD for there situation.

For my wife and i we had not attended MASS except during Christmas for over 30 year's.So sadly we neglected our children's spiritual need's.Fortunately we must have done some thing's right as they spiritually are doing better.

Once my wife was DXed with sclc 4 we both realized that life was only temporary but eternatey is for ever and we both openly admit that returning to the Church and being in a relationship with GOD was what had been truly missing in our lives.We have prayed for GOD's hand in Guiding our doctor's and our live's.And of course we never leave the saint for hopeless causes ST.Jude out of our live's and trust in his intercession's and the love and caring of our Blessed Mother.

And as to herb's and Vitamins one should consult with there physician's to be sure your not taking anything that could counter act treatment's,as you would i think want them to compliment each other.

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It doesn't surprise me that we mostly go about these two types of treatment quietly. The scientist in the surgeons and oncologists just won't seem to let them wrap their thoughts around the idea that something other than hard scientific knowledge plays a part in treatment and dare I say, cure of all this.

I know for a fact that my oncologist certainly is not opposed to supplements and actually told me what dose of selenium to take and wrote me a script for Vioxx because it's a cox 2 inhibitor, I think she's more of the opinion that as long it doesn't hurt, it's fine, but we don't really know that these things help. I think she's entirely correct in that we don't know if it helps, but I say, if it doesn't hurt, we need any advantage we can get. I think that my surgeons are less inclined than the oncologist to believe in the benefits of supplementation.

The spiritual thing, that certainly is a matter of personal choice, but I know I took great comfort in knowing I had a lot of people praying for me.

My point is, I believe that I am one of those people talked about in this article, and while it's not a secret, I do go about all that quietly where my docs are concerned.

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Guest bean_si (Not Active)

I thought it a good idea to give both my rad onc and chemo onc a complete list of the supplements I take. Then, in case a treatment contra-indicated the use of one of those supplements, they could tell me.


Boy am I naive. I know for sure that my chemo onc did not look at it. There was no evidence that my rad. onc. read it either.


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