News Briefs

Supplements/Prescription Medications Users Seldom Tell Physicians, Study Says

Patients who take nonvitamin dietary supplements with prescription medications seldom tell their conventional medical professionals, says a study in the Oct. 9 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The researchers examined the patterns of the supplement use among adult prescription medication users in the United States. They used the 2002 National Health Interview Survey to analyze factors associated with the supplement and prescription medication use in the prior 12 months with descriptive, ×2, and logistic regression analysis. Overall, the researchers found that one in four prescription medication users took a nonvitamin dietary supplement in the prior 12 months, yet 69% did not share this with their conventional medical professionals.

Here are other results from the study:

  • In the United States, 21% of adult prescription medication users reported using the supplements in the prior 12 months.
  • Among adults who used prescription medications in the prior 12 months, the most commonly used supplements included echinacea, ginseng, ginkgo, garlic, and glucosamine chondroitin.
  • Prescription medication users with menopause and chronic gastrointestinal disorders had the highest rates of the supplement use (33% and 28%, respectively), and prescription medication users with coronary heart disease and history of myocardial infarction had the lowest rates of use (12% each).
  • In the adjusted analysis, factors associated with increased use of the supplements by prescription medication users included being female, being Hispanic, having more years of education, living in the West, lacking medical insurance, and having chronic conditions.
  • Elderly respondents were less likely to use the supplements.

NCCAM and The Bernard Osher Foundation Announce Career Development Award

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) in Bethesda, MD, has announced a career development award designed to diminish barriers that prevent CAM clinicians from exploring a career in research. NCCAM, a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), created this award in partnership with The Bernard Osher Foundation through a grant to the foundation for the NIH.

The Bernard Osher Foundation/NCCAM CAM Practitioner Research Career Development Award will promote the science of CAM through research training and mentorship. The award is for individual CAM practitioners with clinical CAM doctorates who have had limited opportunities for research training, but who have a strong desire to pursue a career in CAM research.

Award winners will receive up to five years of intensive, supervised career development research training in the biomedical, behavioral, or clinical sciences related to CAM. Applicants should hold a health professional doctoral degree (e.g., chiropractic, osteopathic, naturopathic, or acupuncture and Oriental medicine).

The Bernard Osher Foundation, based in San Francisco, supports three integrative medicine research centers at the University of California, San Francisco; Harvard University; and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. Anyone interested in learning more about the award should visit www.nccam.nih.gov/training.


MD Anderson to Study Effects of Tibetan Yoga on Women With Breast Cancer

Researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston have received a $2.4 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to study the effects of Tibetan yoga in women with breast cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy.

The award is the largest ever made to study Tibetan yoga in cancer patients, say the researchers, who published a 2004 study in Cancer that found the practice led to significant sleep improvements in patients with lymphoma. Another small study of Tibetan yoga also found improvements in cancer-related symptoms and intrusive thoughts in women with breast cancer.

With this grant support, the research team will randomly assign women with breast cancer who are scheduled to undergo chemotherapy to either a Tibetan yoga group, a control group that does simple stretching, or to a group that receives standard care. The participants will practice their assigned techniques for seven weeks during chemotherapy, and then will have five booster sessions over the next six months.

The study will assess the physical and psychological benefits of the yoga program, and will specifically examine such patient lifestyle factors as fatigue and sleep, mental health, and distress. Additionally, the study will evaluate cognitive and emotional processing, social networking and interactions, coping, and other psychosocial factors, the researchers say.