Herbs or natural products that increase cancer growth or recurrence. Part two of a four-part series

Oncol Nurs Forum. 2004 Sep 17;31(5):E99-115. doi: 10.1188/04.ONF.E99-E115. Print 2004 Sep.


Purpose/objectives: To review 32 herbs and natural products that show potential to increase cancer growth or recurrence or to interfere with cancer treatments.

Data sources: Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database and Lawrence Review of Natural Products Monograph System.

Data synthesis: Early evidence shows that patients who have or have had cancer should avoid 32 herbs and natural products. Some herbs and natural products have estrogenic effects that enable these products to compete with hormone cancer therapies, whereas others interfere with chemotherapy treatment or may induce recurrence of cancer.

Conclusions: Healthcare professionals can be resources for patients who have cancer, helping them to avoid or identify products that may induce cancer growth or interfere with cancer treatment.

Implications for nursing: The information in this article is designed to provide quick access for healthcare professionals working in clinical oncology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Biological Products / adverse effects*
  • Biological Products / pharmacokinetics
  • Contraindications
  • Disease Progression
  • Drug Interactions
  • Estrogens
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / chemically induced
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Phytoestrogens / adverse effects
  • Phytoestrogens / pharmacokinetics
  • Phytotherapy / adverse effects
  • Plants, Medicinal / adverse effects*
  • Self Medication


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biological Products
  • Estrogens
  • Phytoestrogens