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Timing may have been key to success: An earlier study found ginger did no good when patients waited until the day of treatment to start taking it. In the new study, researchers wanted to see if having ginger in the system ahead of time would help.
"It was just a different way of thinking to treat nausea, to try and pre-empt it," Ryan said.
Ginger caused no side effects in the new study, but doctors say people should talk with their doctors before trying it because it can interfere with blood clotting, especially during cancer treatment or if taken with the blood thinner Coumadin or other commonly used medicines. It's also a risk for people having surgery, the American Cancer Society warns.
The National Cancer Institute paid for the study, and researchers had no ties to the ginger capsules' maker, Aphios. The company already sells a different type of ginger capsule as a dietary supplement, but hopes to seek federal Food and Drug Administration approval to sell its new ginger formulation as a drug to treat nausea, said chief executive officer Trevor Castor.
As dietary supplements, 50 to 100 ginger capsules sell for $6 to $30, Ryan said.
"We can't specifically say if any other form besides the form in our study would work," she added.
Still, it is heartening that ginger may offer hope as a cheap and simple way to ease the burden of chemotherapy on patients and their families, said Dr. Durado Brooks of the Cancer Society.
"It's difficult to watch someone suffer, to watch someone be miserable. So anything we can do to help alleviate chemotherapy symptoms is very welcome," he said.
On the Net:
Oncology group: http://www.asco.org/
American Cancer Society advice:
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