DOH: Beware of testimonials on herbal cure for cancer
MANILA, Philippines — Beware of testimonials and anecdotes on herbal cures claiming that herbal supplements can cure cancer, the Department of Health (DOH) warned patients and their families last week amid reports that some cancer patients had stopped taking their medication in favor of supplements whose efficacy had yet to be proven.
“Testimonials are weak evidence [and are] not acceptable,” said Clarito Cairo, DOH cancer program manager, in an interview with reporters on Friday.
“There are anecdotes saying that [herbal supplements] are proven safe and effective, [though] there’s not enough evidence [to support the claim]. And then some patients would go back to their oncologists since they have developed complications,” Cairo said.
One of the complications often linked to the use of herbal supplements is kidney damage, with further complications leading to death, he added.
Data from the International Agency for Research on Cancer showed that more than 141,000 new cancer cases — mostly of the breast, lung and colon — were reported last year.
More than 86,000 patients died from the disease last year, often because of late detection and consultation.
In February, President Duterte signed the National Integrated Cancer Control Act, or Republic Act No. 11215, increasing government investment in cancer prevention and detection.
Cairo said the DOH was not totally against the use of herbal supplements and traditional medications for cancer “as long as there is evidence that these are safe and effective.”
“[But] if it doesn’t meet the evidence-based [criterion], it cannot be given to a patient,” he said.
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