Oncology SONAR: Researching Interactions Between Natural Health Products and Angiogenesis Inhibitors Used in Cancer Therapy: A Review

Student Researcher:
Radhika Singh

Supervisor / Principle Investigator:
Dr. Sunita Vohra

Additional Authors:
Xing Sun
Morgan Basiuk
Liliane Zorzela

MD Class of 2019


Introduction: The use of complementary therapies by cancer patients has increased significantly, with patients looking for therapies to reduce chemotherapy side effects, slow the rate of cancer progression, and improve their quality of life. These therapies include the use of Natural Health Products (NHPs), which includes herbal and dietary supplements, minerals, and vitamins. Many patients regard NHPs as being safe to use due to their natural origins.

Hypothesis: NHPs can alter the pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of drugs, resulting in potential interactions with the concurrent use of anti-cancer drugs.

Methods: We undertook an oncology-specific scoping review to create a quick reference tool for health care providers to use. After a search of multiple databases was conducted, clinical and preclinical data were screened for relevant interactions to be included on an interactions grid between nine NHPs and 27 angiogenesis inhibitor drugs. Interactions were then coded based on the type and quality of data, and reviewed by experts in the field of NHP-drug interactions and integrative medicine.

Results: The NHP and angiogenesis inhibitor with the most recorded interactions were vitamin D and imatinib, respectively, and multiple examples of both synergistic and antagonistic interactions were found; this illustrates the need for health care providers to stay vigilant and discuss NHP use with their patients.

Conclusion: This preliminary quick-reference tool will help health care providers stay informed on interactions between NHPs and anti-cancer drugs in order to ensure patient safety.