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01.12.2017 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

BMC Cancer 1/2017

Dietary supplement use among cancer survivors and the general population: a nation-wide cross-sectional study

BMC Cancer > Ausgabe 1/2017
Sihan Song, Jiyoung Youn, Yun Jung Lee, Minji Kang, Taisun Hyun, YoonJu Song, Jung Eun Lee
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12885-017-3885-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Use of dietary supplements among cancer survivors is common and controversial, but information on the amount of nutrients from supplements among cancer survivors is limited. We examined the amount of nutrients and their contribution to total nutrient intake from supplements and compared these data between cancer survivors and cancer-free individuals. We also identified factors associated with supplement use among cancer survivors.


We identified 400 cancer survivors and 10,387 cancer-free individuals, aged ≥ 19 years, from the fifth Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES) V-1, 2 (2010, 2011). We calculated the amount of nutrients consumed from foods and supplements, the percent contributions of supplement nutrients to total nutrient intakes and cancer survivors’ nutrient intakes relative to the Estimated Average Requirements (EARs) and the Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (ULs). We examined factors associated with supplement use among cancer survivors.


We found that 33.3% of cancer survivors and 22.1% of cancer-free individuals reported the use of dietary supplements. Compared to cancer-free individuals, cancer survivors had higher intakes of riboflavin, folate, and iron from foods (p < 0.05 for each), and higher intakes of calcium (p = 0.05) and vitamin C (p = 0.01) from foods and supplements. The similar pattern was observed for the percent contributions to total nutrient intake. Cancer survivors had higher proportion of participants below EARs than cancer-free individuals for thiamin and niacin (p < 0.05 for each). The proportions of cancer survivors below the EARs were 61.2% for calcium, 49.1% for riboflavin, and 43.5% for folate and the proportions of cancer survivors above the ULs were 3.3% for iron, and 2.3% for vitamin A. For female cancer survivors, education above an elementary school level, moderate physical activity, low vegetable intake, and high circulating vitamin D levels were associated with supplement use. For male cancer survivors, living in an urban area, no consumption of alcohol, and lower energy intake, were associated with supplement use.


Korean cancer survivors have higher rate of dietary supplement use and higher contribution from supplements to total nutrient intake than cancer-free individuals. Demographic and lifestyle factors were associated with supplement use among cancer survivors.
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