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Complementary therapies

While many complementary therapies are safe and have been found by consumers to be of benefit to their wellbeing, some natural medicines that are recommended by complementary therapists have the potential to interact with prescription medicines and other pharmaceuticals or to cause potentially negative side-effects in women with breast cancer.

  • Quality information about complementary medicines should be available to all women with breast cancer.
  • BCNA recommends that all women ask their complementary therapist about the potential side effects and interactions with other medicines of any medicines recommended to them by their therapists. In addition, BCNA emphasises the importance of a woman communicating with her medical team about any complementary therapies she is using.
  • BCNA does not support the use of alternative medicines being used in the management of breast cancer in place of the evidence-based, best-practice treatments that are recommended in the clinical practice guidelines for the management of breast cancer.
  • BCNA recommends that consumers satisfy themselves that their complementary therapists’ training and credentials are appropriate for the tasks they are undertaking in the treatment and dispensing of medicines related to each consumers’ individual needs.
  • The key recommendations in the Complementary Medicines in the Australian Healthcare System report should be implemented, for example, governments should move quickly to nationally consistent, statutory regulation (where appropriate) of complementary health care professionals.
  • High quality research into complementary therapies, taking account of quality of life and symptom control, should be a funding priority.

More information

  • The Cancer Australia's website has more information about complementary therapies 
  • Download the article Complementary Therapies - How safe are theyThe Consumers' Health Forum of Australia provided permission to reproduce this article by BCNA Consumer Rep, Geraldine Robertson. It was first published in The Australian Health Consumer Issue One of 2006-07.