7 Supplements Every Cancer Patient Should Consider

If you’ve recently received a cancer diagnosis OR if it runs in your family and you know you’re at high risk, the temptation to find the “magic bullet” is real.

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Of course, you want to do everything you can to both prevent cancer and help your body get rid of it. But will a single supplement or even a combination of supplements be enough?!

First and foremost you must start with your diet, supplements will not replace the benefits from a healthy real-food diet (organic, unprocessed, colorful, plant based).

That said, there are times when adding targeted supplements can prove useful. There is never a one-size-fits-all approach however and this is especially true when it comes to cancer.

There are many factors I take into account before recommending a supplement to someone. For starters, the quality of their diet, their lifestyle, their stress level, and their health. If someone is at high risk for cancer or currently facing a cancer diagnosis, then this will strongly influence my assessment. The type of cancer, the stage, the treatment plan…..all get taken into account. I mention all this because in order to determine what will be best for you, you have to look at the whole picture and I strongly recommend you work with an integrative provider to put together your plan.

I do want to spend some time though sharing with you the Top 7 Supplements I feel all cancer patients should know about.

These are nutrients or foods that have good evidence regarding their ability to both prevent and target cancer cells as well as have high safety ratings. And generally these are the ones I turn to first. Additionally, many people are not getting enough of these in their diet or are deficient because of their lifestyle. Let’s take a look at each.


1. Vitamin D

Vitamin D3 has so many health benefits but most interestingly in regulating the inflammatory response and boosting the immune system. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to an increased risk for cancer; especially for breast, colon, and prostate cancers (study). And some studies have even found that the lower the vitamin D level, the higher the risk.

Many people are deficient in Vitamin D, which is not hard to believe when you consider that most of us are indoors all day and when we are outside, we’re covered in sunscreen. You can check your blood level with a simple (non-fasting) blood test, that most providers have easy access to. It is definitely worth having it checked and to add in a supplement if you are indeed low; in my opinion this would be if your levels are below 50.

Depending on what your level is, you may want to supplement anywhere from 1000-5000 IU/day. If you are very deficient, then your physician will likely recommend supplementing even higher until your levels recover.


2. Turmeric

Turmeric and it’s active compound, curcumin, have been studied extensively for their role in both the treatment and prevention of various cancers. It seems to be the most effective against breast, bowel, stomach, and skin cancers and has even been shown in one study to enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

In research studies, turmeric (specifically the active compound curcumin) has been shown to:

  • Inhibit cancer cell division
  • Increase cancer cell death (self destruction)
  • Inhibit growth of blood vessels to tumors
  • Decrease metastasis (or growth & spread of cancer cells)
  • It may even help boost the effectiveness of chemotherapy while protecting healthy cells

Start getting more turmeric by simply using it more in your cooking. Using both fresh and dried turmeric to maximize the amount of medicinal properties you’re exposed to. You can get a lot more ideas of how to add turmeric to your daily routine HERE.

For general healthy living and disease prevention, aim for 1-3 grams (.5 – 1.5 tsp) of turmeric every day. For treatment or healing purposes the dosing recommendations will be much higher and will require actual supplementation in order to get enough. Some studies have used between 8-10 grams per day but only for short periods of time.

There are many good products out there. One thing to keep in mind when shopping for a turmeric supplement is not only the dosing & quality of the brand but also the bioavailability.

Turmeric is actually not very well absorbed by the intestines. To increase its bioavailability look for products that also include black pepper (piperine). It’s estimated that piperine will increase the bioavailability of turmeric by 2000%! Taking your turmeric with some fat (coconut oil, olive oil, ghee, etc) will also help it’s absorption; so I suggest taking turmeric supplements with a meal.

Another factor with supplementation is it seems that turmeric is cleared from the blood pretty quickly, within 1-4 hours, so it might be best to take it in divided doses over the day; 2-3 x/day.


3. Mushrooms

I’ve talked before about the ability of mushrooms to enhance both the immune system and your stress response but research is also showing how effective mushrooms can be in both the prevention and recovery of cancer.

In research studies, medicinal mushrooms (like reishi, maitake, turkey tail, cordyceps, chaga, & agaricus blazei) have been shown to:

  • Enhance the immune system
  • Shrink tumors
  • Activate NK (natural killer) cells to decrease metastasis
  • Increase cancer cell death (self destruction)
  • Inhibit growth of blood vessels to tumors

They have even been shown to enhance traditional cancer treatments, like chemotherapy & radiation, while protecting healthy cells and minimizing side effects from these treatments (study).

They are routinely used as a complementary part of the cancer treatment plan in Asia and are becoming more and more popular in the Western hemisphere as well.

Adding more mushrooms to your diet would be my first suggestion. Specifically include more medicinal mushrooms (like shiitake and maitake). It’s also really important to only eat mushrooms cooked. Cooking breaks down their cell walls, which are tough and resistant to digestion, and many species contain toxins that cooking destroys.

For more targeted immune support and to enhance your cancer treatment plan, I would suggest a supplement that contains a blend of mushrooms. Host Defense Mushroom products are my go-to for supplementation. I generally suggest using Stamets 7 Daily Immune Support for general immune enhancement and cancer prevention while MyCommunity Comprehensive Immune Support is my go-to during cancer treatment and recovery.


4. Omega-3s

I’ve spoken before about the health benefits of Omega-3s in lowering inflammation and supporting both the brain and immune system. Additional research suggests that Omega-3s can also help the body target and remove cancer cells as well as enhance the effectiveness of conventional treatments.

In research studies, omega-3s have been shown to:

  • Cause selective toxicity to cancer cells
  • Reduce tumor size
  • Inhibit tumor growth
  • Reduce cancer cachexia (severe loss of muscle mass) which can be a life-threatening complication from advanced cancer

Ground flax seeds are a plant-based source of omega-3s that also contain lignans, which may provide even further protection against cancer; specifically hormonally derived cancers like breast, uterus, and prostate cancers.

The first goal should be to eat omega-3 rich foods every day! Aiming for 2-3 servings of fatty fish every week. To see a complete list of foods which are good sources of omega-3s click HERE. The minimum recommended amount is at least 1 gram every day. But, like with everything, when you’re desiring a more therapeutic or healing effect from the Omega-3, you will need more, and at that point I would recommend a supplement.

When supplementation is warranted, I prefer to use Fish Oil. A high quality fish oil that has been tested for purity. I personally rely on Nordic Naturals or Carlson Labs for supplementation. A good plant-based option that still offers DHA with EPA is Algae Oil. The dosing recommendation will vary based on how many dietary Omega-3s you’re consistently getting.


5. Probiotics

I’ve talked about the health benefits of probiotics and probiotic-rich foods in both gut health and in boosting the immune system; both of which are critical in the prevention of cancer. But more and more research has also suggested that probiotics may help stop tumor growth and thereby help the body recover from cancer.

In research studies, probiotics have been shown to:

  • Build immunity & keep harmful pathogens in check
  • Protect DNA from oxidative damage
  • Alter the metabolism of carcinogens
  • Minimize digestive side effects from cancer treatment
  • Improve the effectiveness of certain cancer treatments

Adding more probiotic-rich foods to your diet is step one. Eat at least one serving every day of foods with active and live cultures; like Sauerkraut, Pickled Veggies and Fruits, Kimchi, Miso, Tempeh, Kefir, or Kombucha. Also get plenty of plant-based fiber every day to feed the good bacteria and keep them reproducing.

For therapeutic purposes I recommend adding a probiotic supplement. Choosing a product with a variety of strains and a high concentration of CFUs (colony forming units) is important to make sure you’re actually receiving a therapeutic benefit.

There are several products I turn to for supplementation; Klaire Labs Ther-Biotic Complete, Nature’s Way Primadophilus, & Renew Life Ultimate Flora. For more strategies and ideas to both repair and maintain the health of your gut for long-term cancer prevention, you can read more here.


6. CBD (Cannabidiol) Oil

The current state of research around CBD oil, Cannabis, and Cancer is still in the pre-clinical stages but is definitely promising. Cannabis has been used as a medicine throughout the world for the last 3000 years.

In animal & cell studies, CBD oil has been shown to:

  • Increase the effectiveness of radiation therapy
  • Decrease in tumor size
  • Inhibits metastasis
  • Promote cancer cell death
  • Decrease side effects from treatment
  • Lower inflammation
  • Reduce pain
  • Lower anxiety & improve sleep

Research suggests that the anti-cancer potential of CBD may be more effective when combined with THC in the whole plant form. However since cannabis is not legal in every state, and is still considered illegal nationally, CBD Oil is a possible supplementation that everyone can access.

Admittedly I am new to recommending this supplement and am still researching and trying different products. One company though that I’m currently working with, who I was introduced to at a conference and was able to speak with the representative directly, is +CBDOil. You can learn more about their products here.


7. Frankincense (Boswellia)

I’ve discussed the benefits of Boswellia in lowering inflammation and it is a common go-to supplement for me when I’m working with someone to resolve their chronic inflammation. Lowering inflammation is an important component in cancer prevention but there is also some evidence (1, 2, 3) to suggest that Frankincense has other cancer fighting benefits.

In lab studies, frankincense has been shown to:

  • Boost the immune system & fight infection
  • Increase feelings of calm
  • Promote cancer cell death
  • Decrease metastasis
  • Improve effectiveness of chemotherapy
  • Decrease side effects from treatment

You can take boswellia as a supplement or by using frankincense essential oil. The essential oil can be used topically by mixing with a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba oils. It can also be taken internally diluted in tea or water; most sources recommend a 10:1 dilution of water to frankincense. It can be inhaled via an essential oil diffuser or even used in the bath. Inhalation may be most effective in people treating brain cancer.

As a supplement, you want to choose a product that has been standardized to contain between 60-80% boswellic acids along with between 5-30% AKBBA. I suggest starting around 600 mg per day to see how you react to it and then gradually increase while working with a provider who can guide you accordingly.

During Treatment

As I discussed above, some supplements may actually enhance the effectiveness of treatment as well as minimize side effects…..win-win!!

BUT it’s really important that your oncology team knows what supplements you are taking and you seek the advice of an integrated provider to make sure that what you’re taking makes sense for you, your cancer, and your treatment plan.

Safety Concerns

In general, it’s always a good idea to make sure that what you’re taking is appropriate for you and isn’t going to interfere with any other medications you may be taking or treatments you are receiving.

I’m always hesitant to recommend single (isolated) nutrients, especially in high doses. There are some nutrients which have actually been shown to increase cancer risk when taken in high doses.

  • Beta-carotene in high doses may increase the risk of both lung and stomach cancers, especially in men who smoke or are exposed to asbestos (study).
  • Vitamin E in high doses was linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer (study).
  • And certain B vitamins in high doses were shown to increase the risk of lung cancer in men; more so in those who smoked (study).

Most importantly, there is no dietary supplement alone, which will be enough to treat or cure your cancer. It will always take a holistic approach, even if you’re choosing alternative & natural treatment options.

Supplements Aren’t Enough!

Start with your DIET, your lifestyle, and your stress management tools. These three factors combined will have more of an impact on both your risk for cancer and your body’s ability to recover from cancer than any combination of supplements you can add in.

If you haven’t already, take the first step towards your optimal eating plan by removing the 4 most toxic foods that can harm your cancer recovery. Download your Free Guide HERE.

Beyond diet, there ARE times when it makes sense to add supplements, but only take what you need, and make sure you run them by your provider to insure that they won’t negatively interact with anything else you’re taking or doing.

I can help you determine the most appropriate and promising supplements for you based on your diet, lifestyle, and cancer treatment plan. If you’re ready to stop searching for answers on your own and gain the support & guidance of a trusted professional, click the link below to book your “Planning Session” with me today.

Click here to book your Free 20-min “Cancer Recovery Planning Session“.

The 4 Most Toxic Foods To Avoid During Cancer Recovery

This FREE Guide will help you take the First Step in helping your body heal!
By knowing what foods will feed your cancer vs. slow it down, you and your family can begin to take control again.

Where should I send your FREE Guide?