Herbal remedies that include turmeric or ginseng can stop blood from clotting as well as it should. Picture: wikipedia commons/Richardfabi

London - Skin creams and herbal remedies used to ease breast cancer side-effects may interfere with medical treatment and do more harm than good, doctors have warned.

Researchers found some complementary therapies used by many patients to reduce breast cancer’s effects on the body can actually hamper chemotherapy.

And herbal remedies that include turmeric or ginseng can stop blood from clotting as well as it should, which may delay healing and lead to worse scarring.

Once breast cancer reaches an advanced stage, lesions spread to the skin in as many as a fifth of cases, which are difficult to treat and can cause physical discomfort and distress. 

While many patients attempt to soothe these with creams and herbal treatments, researchers from Nova Medical School in Portugal said these delay wound healing and interfere with hormone therapy or chemotherapy.

Professor Maria Joao Cardoso, a breast surgeon speaking at the Advanced Breast Cancer conference in Lisbon, said treatments including garlic and ginger remedies are among those that can do patients more harm than good.

She said: "Many patients do not check and do not tell their doctors that they are using complementary therapies. There are many of these therapies, especially herbal products and creams, that can have a negative impact in cancer treatment. Many compounds are complex and some ingredients can delay healing and interfere with the efficacy of systemic treatments.

"Laboratory studies have shown that certain products can reduce the blood-clotting process required for a wound to heal. If a patient has a bleeding wound, these compounds can have a strong, adverse impact on scarring."

The professor said that activities such as yoga, acupuncture and reiki may help breast cancer patients manage their stress levels.

Daily Mail