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Many people believe that a pill or supplement they find in stores, is safe and it works. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has rules to help ensure that supplements contain what their labels claim they do, but the supplement’s safety and its effects on the body are not addressed by any FDA rules. The FDA does not make manufacturers of these products print possible side effects on their labels. And the FDA can’t pull a dietary supplement or herbal product from the market unless they have proof that the product is unsafe.

Your body needs vitamins and minerals to help it function properly and use the energy (calories) in food. Most are found naturally in foods, but they are also sold as pill and liquid supplements.

When you’re healthy, eating enough food to get the nutrients and calories you need is not usually a problem. Most nutrition guidelines stress eating lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products; limiting the amount of red meat you eat, especially meats that are processed or high in fat; cutting back on fat, sugar, alcohol, and salt; and staying at a healthy weight. But when you’re being treated for cancer, these things can be hard to do, especially if you have side effects or just don’t feel well.


You may have heard that some fats are better for you than others. When considering the effects of fats on your heart and cholesterol level, choose monounsaturated (olive, canola, and peanut oils) and polyunsaturated fats (these are found mainly in safflower, sunflower, corn, and flaxseed oils and seafood) more often than saturated fats or trans fats.

Antioxidants include vitamins A, C, and E; selenium and zinc; and some enzymes that absorb and attach to free radicals (destructive molecules) , preventing them from attacking normal cells.

Sources of trans fats include snack foods and baked goods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil or vegetable shortening. Trans fats are also found naturally in some animal products, like dairy products. Trans fats can raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol. Avoid trans fats as much as you can.

Phytonutrients or phytochemicals are plant compounds like carotenoids, lycopene, resveratrol, and phytosterols that are thought to have health-protecting qualities. They’re found in plants such as fruits and vegetables, or things made from plants, like tofu or tea. Phytochemicals are best taken in by eating the foods that contain them rather than taking supplements or pills.

Bach was critical of another study run by Gilead that lacked a placebo group, instead comparing two different durations of remdesivir treatment. He called the decision “frustrating.” Gilead has said that the decision was driven by limitations on its ability to produce vials of placebo that would have resembled the medicine.

Some critics saw flaws in the study that could affect how its results are interpreted. The study was stopped after a data safety and monitoring board, a panel of outside experts charged with safeguarding patients in the trial, notified the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which was running the study, that there had been a statistically significant benefit of remdesivir.

R emdesivir, the only drug cleared to treat Covid-19, sped the recovery time of patients with the disease, but its benefit appeared much more limited in patients who needed mechanical ventilation as part of their treatment, according to eagerly awaited results of a clinical trial.

Despite skepticism, Gilead’s remdesivir could become a ‘multi-year commercial opportunity’

Remdesivir, developed by Gilead, has been in short supply, so the issue of which patients benefit most could be very important for deciding who receives the drug. The authors of the study argue that the difference in mortality rates resulted from the fact that there were fewer patients whose symptoms were more severe at the beginning of the study, resulting in less statistical power. But the benefit appeared much bigger among those who were less sick.

Topol said that he interprets the survival benefit as “quite likely” and said he is “not bothered” by the fact that the mortality result is not significant. He said he awaits results from future trials.

The severity of patients’ illness was rated on a scale of 1 (not hospitalized) to 8 (dead). The lowest score in the study was a 4, denoting hospitalization, but no need for extra oxygen. The largest group of patients scored a 5, meaning they did need oxygen.

Peter Bach, a pulmonologist who is the director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, worried that it appears that slightly more placebo subjects started out in the more severe groups. This, he said, could mean that the overall effect is “potentially exaggerated.”

The agency did, however, agree to support additional research on marijuana and make the process easier for researchers. “Research is critically needed, because we have to be able to advise patients and doctors on the safe and effective use of cannabis,” Bonn-Miller says.

But it’s not yet proven to help many of these conditions, with a few exceptions, Bonn-Miller says.

What is medical marijuana?

The drug can also affect judgment and coordination, which could lead to accidents and injuries. When used during the teenage years when the brain is still developing, marijuana might affect IQ and mental function.

He shared some background on medical marijuana’s uses and potential side effects.

While every state has laws dictating the use of medical marijuana, more than two thirds of U.S. states and the District of Columbia have actually legalized it for medical treatments and more are considering bills to do the same. Yet while many people are using marijuana, the FDA has only approved it for treatment of two rare and severe forms of epilepsy, Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.