Herbal medicines are commonly used to treat cancer
In 2021, scientists found that many people use herbal medicines, which are treatments made from plants, as a form of cancer therapy. They recommend that doctors consider including herbal medicines as part of cancer care plans.
Many patients prefer to use herbal medicine against their cancer, but researchers didn’t know exactly how common this practice is.
Researchers therefore wanted to know how prevalent herbal medicine use is in different locations across the world, and across different ages and genders
The researchers reviewed 155 studies and found that more than half of the patients in the studies were female. They found that 22% of cancer patients use herbal medicine and most of these patients are from Africa or Asia. Most of the patients are adults from low-income countries, and females use herbal medicine more than males.
Since the practice is common, the researchers recommend including herbal medicines when drawing up healthcare plans for cancer treatment.
The researchers cautioned that each study they reviewed had its own flaws, which could impact the conclusions they drew. For instance, there weren’t many studies available from sub-Saharan Africa, and they didn’t include any non-English studies.
The authors of this paper were from Uganda and Nigeria.
Although herbal medicines are used by patients with cancer in multiple oncology care settings, the magnitude of herbal medicine use in this context remains unclear. )e purpose of this review was to establish the prevalence of herbal medicine use among patients with cancer, across various geographical settings and patient characteristics (age and gender categories). Electronic databases that were searched for data published, from January 2000 to January 2020, were Medline (PubMed), Google Scholar, Embase, and African Index Medicus. Eligible studies reporting prevalence estimates of herbal medicine use amongst cancer patients were pooled using random-effects meta-analyses. Studies were grouped by World Bank region and income groups. Subgroup and meta-regression analyses were performed to explore source of heterogeneity. In total, 155 studies with data for 809,065 participants (53.95% female) met the inclusion criteria. Overall, the pooled prevalence of the use of herbal medicine among patients with cancer was 22% (95% confidence interval (CI): 18%–25%), with the highest prevalence estimates for Africa (40%, 95% CI: 23%–58%) and Asia (28%, 95% CI: 21%–35%). )e pooled prevalence estimate was higher across low- and middle-income countries (32%, 95% CI: 23%–42%) and lower across high-income countries (17%, 95% CI: 14%– 21%). Higher pooled prevalence estimates were found for adult patients with cancer (22%, 95% CI: 19%–26%) compared with children with cancer (18%, 95% CI: 11%–27%) and for female patients (27%, 95% CI: 19%–35%) compared with males (17%, 95% CI: 1%–47%). Herbal medicine is used by a large percentage of patients with cancer use. )e findings of this review highlight the need for herbal medicine to be integrated in cancer care.
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