John GM; Hershman DL; Falci L; Shi Z; Tsai WY; Greenlee H.
Complementary and alternative medicine use among US cancer survivors.
Journal of Cancer Survivorship. 10(5):850-64, 2016 Oct.
PURPOSE: US cancer survivors commonly use vitamins/minerals and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). We compare use of vitamins/minerals and CAM between adult cancer survivors and cancer-free adults and estimate annual out-of-pocket expenses.
METHODS: Data on self-reported vitamin/mineral and CAM use in the past 12 months from the cross-sectional 2012 US National Health Interview Survey were used to estimate prevalence of use and out-of-pocket expenditures. The cohort included adults with (n=2977) and without (n=30,551) a self-reported cancer diagnosis.
RESULTS: Approximately 79 % of cancer survivors and 68 % of cancer-free adults reported using >1 vitamins/minerals and/or CAM modality in the past year. Compared to cancer-free adults, cancer survivors were more likely to report use of vitamin/minerals (75 vs. 61 %, P<0.001), non-vitamin/mineral natural products (24 vs. 19 %, P<0.001), manipulative and body-based therapies (19 vs. 17 %, P=0.03), and alternative medical systems (5 vs. 4%, P=0.04). Adult cancer survivors and cancer-free adults spent an annual estimated $6.7 billion and $52 billion out-of-pocket, respectively, on vitamins/minerals and CAM. Survivors spent 60 % of the total on vitamins/minerals ($4 billion), 18 % ($1.2 billion) on non-vitamin/mineral natural products, and 7 % ($0.5 billion) on massage.
CONCLUSIONS: Compared with cancer-free adults, a higher proportion of cancer survivors report vitamin/mineral and CAM use. Cancer survivors, who accounted for 6.9 % of the total population, accrued more than 11.4 % of the annual out-of-pocket costs on vitamins/minerals and CAM spent by US adults.
IMPLICATIONS FOR CANCER SURVIVORS: Given the high use of vitamins/minerals and CAM in cancer survivors, studies are needed to analyze health outcomes and the cost/benefit ratio of such use.