Safety During Breast Cancer

Ask the Nutritionist

Q: Is taking 1,050 mg (2 capsules) of "Host Defense" together with Arimidex, Lyrica, Dexamethasone, and Hydromorphone safe for a 74-year-old breast cancer stage 4 patient?

Joe Bretton, New York, New York 

A: The safety of non FDA-regulated supplements is a highly controversial topic. There are many products available on the market that the FDA doesn't regulate ("Host Defense" being one of them), meaning that there are little to no controls in place to determine what the products contain, if they provide the benefits they claim on their packaging, if they even contain the active ingredients on their labels, and most importantly, if they are safe.

Additionally, unlike drugs that are considered unsafe until they are proven to be safe, dietary supplements are considered safe until they are proven to be unsafe.

There is preliminary data to suggest that mushrooms contain natural compounds that can help support the immune system and inhibit cancer cell growth; however this data is mainly from test tube studies, so it is unclear if these compounds will have the same beneficial effects in the human body.

There are no known drug interactions between Arimidex, Lyrica, Dexamethasone, or Hydromorphone and "Host Defense," according to a search in the Natural Medicine Database, which Dana-Farber Cancer Institute uses to help evaluate supplement safety, but that doesn't mean that it is safe to mix this with your medications. It is important to check with your medical provider first.

Read more about the safety of mushroom consumption in the form of Kombucha.

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