Nutritional supplements like Mistletoe have many health benefits/purported uses and are being widely used by cancer patients and those at-genetic-risk of cancer. But, is it safe to take Mistletoe supplements for all types of cancer and without considering any ongoing treatments and other lifestyle conditions? A common belief but only a myth is that anything natural can only benefit me or do no harm. Analysis of anticancer benefits of mistletoe (based on the purported uses and believed health benefits) across few clinical studies found no substantial evidence for increased patient survival and recommended not prescribing mistletoe randomly to cancer patients. Some studies also found no impact/improvement in the patient’s quality of life with taking mistletoe supplements.
The takeaway being – your individual context will influence your decision if nutritional supplement Mistletoe is safe or not. And also that this decision needs to be constantly revisited as conditions change. Conditions like cancer type, current ongoing treatments and supplements, age, gender, weight, height, lifestyle and any genetic mutations identified matter.
What is Mistletoe?
Obligate parasitic plants, more commonly known as mistletoe, are a lot more than just symbols of romance and Christmas. This special breed of evergreens is actually a parasite which attaches itself to a host plant or tree and sucks out all their nutrients and water. Eaten raw, mistletoes are actually poisonous and cause a range of symptoms from diarrhea and weakness to seizures.
However, mistletoe extracts and supplements are commonly taken around the globe due to their numerous believed health benefits/purported uses. Mistletoe extracts and supplements have been traditionally used for various medical conditions such as epilepsy, high blood pressure, headaches, menopausal symptoms, infertility and arthritis. In fact, in Europe, mistletoe extract supplements are available by prescription for the treatment of cancer as well. This has caused significant controversy among the scientific community on whether mistletoe extract supplements can really help with cancer treatment.
Foods to Eat After Cancer Diagnosis!
No two cancers are the same. Go beyond the common nutrition guidelines for everyone and make personalized decisions about food and supplements with confidence.
How does Mistletoe Extract/Supplements impact Cancer?
Mistletoe supplements contain many active ingredients including Beta-sitosterol, Oleic Acid and P-coumaric Acid at different concentration levels. The molecular pathways which are regulated by Mistletoe include MYC Signaling, RAS-RAF Signaling, Angiogenesis, Stem Cell Signaling and NFKB Signaling. These cellular pathways directly or indirectly regulate specific cancer molecular endpoints like growth, spread and death. Because of this biological regulation – for cancer nutrition, the right choice of supplements like Mistletoe individually or in combination is an important decision to be made.
Will Mistletoe Extract/Supplements benefit Cancer Patients?
To find out whether mistletoe extract/supplements is beneficial for cancer patients, a group of scientific researchers from Germany did a systematic review this year on any oncological benefits that mistletoe could have. In their review, the researchers looked at 28 publications with 2639 patients who faced a variety of different cancer types and mistletoe was added to supplement the conventional therapy of a specific cancer type. They found no substantial evidence for increased patient survival and concluded that “with respect to survival, a thorough review of the literature does not provide any indication to prescribe mistletoe to patients with cancer” (Freuding M et al, J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2019). However, even if a natural supplement is not able to improve survival rates, they are still taken if the supplement can improve a patient’s quality of life by decreasing the negative toxicities of the chemo drugs. But in part 2 of the same study looking at mistletoe supplements in terms of quality of life, researchers found that most of the studies showed either less or no impact/improvement in cancer patient’s quality of life.
This means that Mistletoe may not be beneficial in improving the overall survival or quality of life of all patients and may not be prescribed randomly for any cancer patient. Just like the same treatment does not work for every cancer patient, based on your individual context the Mistletoe may be harmful or safe. Along with which cancer and associated genetics – the ongoing treatments, supplements, lifestyle habits, BMI and allergies are all factors deciding if Mistletoe should be avoided or not and why.
For example, taking nutritional Mistletoe supplements may benefit cancer patients with Rosai-Dorfman disease patients on Methotrexate treatment. But avoid Mistletoe supplements if on Dexamethasone treatment for Relapsed Refractory Multiple Myeloma. Similarly, taking nutritional supplement Mistletoe can benefit healthy individuals who are at genetic risk of cancer due to mutation of gene CDKN2A. But avoid taking nutritional supplement Mistletoe when at genetic risk of cancer due to mutation of gene POLH.
This goes to show that just because something is natural, it does not mean that it will definitely benefit a patient’s health, especially when it comes to cancer. The popularity in advertising of a product will not help a patient but a personalized and individual plan will. Natural supplements are a powerful tool for cancer treatment but only if scientifically paired and personalized based on factors like cancer type, current ongoing treatments and supplements, age, gender, weight, height, lifestyle and any genetic mutations identified. When making decisions on the use of supplement Mistletoe for cancer – do consider all these factors and explanations. Because just as true for cancer treatments – Mistletoe use cannot be a one-size-fits-all decision for all types of cancers.
What food you eat and which supplements you take is a decision you make. Your decision should include consideration of the cancer gene mutations, which cancer, ongoing treatments and supplements, any allergies, lifestyle information, weight, height and habits.
The nutrition planning for cancer from addon is not based on internet searches. It automates the decision making for you based on molecular science implemented by our scientists and software engineers. Irrespective of whether you care to understand the underlying biochemical molecular pathways or not - for nutrition planning for cancer that understanding is needed.
Get started NOW with your nutrition planning by answering questions on the name of cancer, genetic mutations, ongoing treatments and supplements, any allergies, habits, lifestyle, age group and gender.
Personalized Nutrition for Cancer!
Cancer changes with time. Customize and modify your nutrition based on cancer indication, treatments, lifestyle, food preferences, allergies and other factors.
Cancer patients often have to deal with different chemotherapy side effects which affect their quality of life and look out for alternative therapies for cancer. Taking the right nutrition and supplements based on scientific considerations (avoiding guesswork and random selection) is the best natural remedy for cancer and treatment related side-effects.