Cancer patients who opt for unconventional treatments are at higher risk of dying from the disease, findings of a new study have revealed.

Higher Risk Of Death In Cancer Patients Resorting To Alternative Cancer Treatment

Researchers of the new study, which was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, looked at how cancer patients fare using traditional medications and alternative treatments. They found that those who use traditional medications have double the risk of dying within five years.

For the research, Skyler Johnson, from Yale School of Medicine, and colleagues looked at the treatment of 800 cancer patients, nearly 300 of whom opted to receive treatment other than the more common treatment options such as radiotherapy, surgery and chemotherapy. These alternative treatments may involve use of botanicals, herbs, special diets or energy crystal, which some people think possess healing powers.

The researchers found that cancer patients who use these alternative medicine were almost two and a half times at greater risk of dying within five years after their diagnosis. The risk is higher among breast cancer patients. Breast cancer patients were found to be more than five times more likely to die from their condition than their counterparts who decided to undergo standard radiation treatment.

The research also showed that 20 percent of patients with lung cancer survived for over five years using non-standard treatment, which is far lower when compared with the 41 percent survival rate in patients using standard treatment

"We now have evidence to suggest that using alternative medicine in place of proven cancer therapies results in worse survival," said Johnson. "It is our hope that this information can be used by patients and physicians when discussing the impact of cancer treatment decisions on survival."

Patients Who Opt For Alternative Treatments Are Wealthier And Highly Educated

The findings likewise revealed that those who opt for alternative cancer treatments tend to be wealthier and highly educated.

"You'd assume that someone who is more well-educated, they have an understanding of science and medicine, they'd be less likely to make a choice like this, but that's clearly not true, based on this data," Johnson said.

Steve Jobs is known to have resorted to alternative cancer treatment for a rare form of pancreatic cancer. He was reported to have delayed surgery to remove the tumor for nine months, during which he tried alternative medicine, which included special diet to treat his condition.

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