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J Nutr. 2001 Nov;131(11 Suppl):3037S-40S. doi: 10.1093/jn/131.11.3037S.

Biopharmacologic and herbal therapies for cancer: research update from NCCAM.

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National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.


During the past decade, use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by the American public increased from 34% in 1990 to 42% in 1995 with related out-of-pocket expenditures estimated at $27 billion. Among cancer patients, use of CAM ranges between 30 and 75% worldwide and includes dietary approaches, herbals and other biologically based treatments such as melatonin, mushrooms, shark cartilage and high dose vitamins and minerals. Concerns about herb-nutrient-drug interactions and product quality and standardization emphasize the need for rigorous research. In 1998, Congress mandated the creation of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) to conduct and support such research of CAM therapies. The NCCAM portfolio for oncology is rapidly growing. As of July 2001, 26 projects are underway, two specialized centers are funded for cancer research and four botanical centers are cofunded with the Office of Dietary Supplements. Investigations are targeting herbals and complex herbal formulas; single dietary supplements and complex dietary regimens; biological agents; and mind-body, body-based and frontier approaches. Of these, biopharmacologic and herbal therapies are a major focus of research. The NCCAM portfolio illustrates how research of CAM, particularly studies of biopharmacologic and herbal approaches for cancer, is developing systematically and rigorously.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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