Complementary and alternative (CAM) dietary therapies for cancer


  • Sheila Weitzman MB, BS

    Corresponding author
    1. The Division of Hematology/Oncology, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    • The Division of Hematology/Oncology, The Hospital for Sick Children, 555 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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Complementary and alternative (CAM) therapies include a wide spectrum of dietary practices, some of which are claimed to cure cancer. Observational studies have shown consistently that predominantly plant-based diets reduce the risk for some adult type cancers such as breast cancer and prostate cancer. These studies form the basis of the American Cancer Society (ACS) nutritional guidelines. Many CAM diets prescribe a similar low fat, high fiber, high fruit and vegetable type diet, but also add detoxification and many different supplements to the basic diet which is then claimed to cure cancer. The potential advantages and disadvantages of CAM diets are discussed. Many aspects can be potentially harmful, particularly to the child with cancer. Advantages include involvement of the child and family in decision-making and care. There is no evidence to support the claims that CAM dietary therapies cure cancer. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2008;50:494–497. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.