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Pancreatic Cancer Health Center

Vitamins May Help Cancer-Related Pain

Melatonin Supplements, Green Tea Extract, Other Complementary Remedies May Also Lessen Fatigue
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Jan. 28, 2008 (Orlando) -- High-potency vitamins, melatonin supplements, and other complementary remedies may help to relieve the debilitating pain and fatigue experienced by most people with advanced pancreatic cancer, a new study suggests.

"Pain and fatigue are a huge issue for this population of patients," says researcher Timothy C. Birdsall, MD, vice president for integrative medicine at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Zion, Ill.

"Many have so much pain that they need sedating doses of narcotics. And they are often too tired to get up and move around; they spend most of the day sitting or even in bed," he tells WebMD.

Vitamins Help Control Pain

Birdsall and colleagues studied 50 people who had advanced pancreatic cancer and were being treated with chemotherapy, sometimes in conjunction with radiation.

The participants were already taking narcotic drugs and anti-inflammatory agents to help control their pain. Birdsall says that "there's really nothing, conventionally, that we can give for fatigue."

Thirty-six of the 50 participants were given complementary remedies, most frequently green tea extract, melatonin, and high-potency multivitamins that had at least 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C and 400 international units of vitamin E.

At the start of the study, 40% of those taking a complementary remedy had pain that was considered manageable. Six months later, 67% had manageable pain. In contrast, 35% of those who didn't take a complementary treatment had manageable pain at the outset; by six months, that figure had dropped to 22%, the study showed.

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