Dietary or nutritional supplements are often used by cancer patients to fill the gap of nutritional deficiencies. As it is a widespread disease, cancer treatment and care have become more intensive and often more aggressive for the human body. As a consequence, these treatments take a toll on the patients’ immune system, their metabolism and organic functions. Filling a nutritional gap can be helpful to support the weakened body. But the nutritional needs that come with the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation go beyond the standard supply with well-known supplements you can find in any drug store.

Cancer as the big killer of our times

Cancer has become a widespread disease. Due to the increasing exposure to toxicity in our environment, poor lifestyle choices that involve our diet, lack of movement and stress, the current cancer burden is higher than ever and expected to expand further, as our population grows and ages. Dietary or nutritional supplements are often used by people to prevent cancer, or by cancer patients to fill the gap of nutritional deficiencies. 

Cancer patients tend to have nutritional deficiencies

It has been proven that the body’s healing capacities and the success of common cancer treatments are greatly influenced by the nutritional status of the patient. Recent studies show that people with cancer tend to adapt poor diets, which, in turn, negatively affect their immunity and metabolism, like the cells’ capacities to regenerate, as well as the tolerance of aggressive cancer treatments. 

Research says that the  mortality  in  malnourished  cancer  patients  is  about 30% higher

The situation becomes more complicated once the patients’ micronutrient supply further decreases by starting chemotherapy or radiation. Some therapeutic procedures which are undertaken in the course of standard therapy may provoke counterproductive side effects, like vomiting, diarrhea, as well as inflammation in the body. This overall compromises the patients’ quality of life and chances for treatment success shrink. 

Filling the nutritional gap through tailored and coordinated supplementation

Dietary supplementation gains greater relevance in cancer prevention and treatment.  It can positively impact the patients’ chances for cure as filling the gaps can promote the bodies’ functions which affect high immunity, a good metabolism, just to mention a few. Yet, if not applied and adjusted correctly, they have potential to be harmful. 

That is why supplementary advice should come from a credible source and be coordinated with the primary physician. Supplements need to be individualised and well selected, taking the person’s dietary and genetic history, as well as the tumour histology into account.


MDPI peer-review “Micronutrients in Oncological Intervention”, 2016, Uwe Gröber u.A.