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July 22, 2010 | 3 minute read

Cancer Myths and Facts: Dietary Supplement Avemar

We continue with answers to questions from our Diet and Cancer Myths  chat .  This one is unusual for AICR because it’s a question about a dietary supplement, rather than about food, weight and physical activity.

So, we turned to Suzanne Dixon, MPH, RD for help with answering this question.

Suzanne developed and taught nutrition science coursework at University of Michigan Medical School. At the university’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, Suzanne counseled thousands of cancer patients and represented the school as an appointed member to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) nutrition sub-committee. She has also written numerous articles for both scholarly and popular publications.

Suzanne is the recipient of the American Dietetic Association Awards for Distinguished Practice in Oncology (cancer) Nutrition and Innovative Nutrition Education Programs for the Public.

The following is a summary of her response for this posting, but you can read her entire answer on the under “Hot Topics.”

Please note the following information is from Ms. Dixon and does not represent views or opinions of AICR.  Any decisions you make regarding treatment should be in consultation with your physician or health care provider.

From Lisa: What is Avemar and do you recommend using it for cancer patients, and if so, where do you get it?

Answer from Suzanne:

Hi Lisa,

Avemar is a dietary supplement. The main ingredient in Avemar is a fermented wheat germ extract.

There have been studies on Avemar in cells, animals and humans.  At this point I am aware of one randomized, controlled trial in humans looking at how Avemar may affect survival after cancer diagnosis.  This single study showed a clear benefit to melanoma patients who used Avemar.

The other human studies were “uncontrolled” because subjects were allowed to choose whether or not to be in the supplement group.  This type of study does have flaws, but is helpful for seeing potential benefits of the supplement.

These uncontrolled studies suggest that Avemar may improve survival after colon cancer diagnosis.  In addition laboratory studies point to possible benefit of this supplement against other types of cancer.  More research in people is needed as animal and cell studies often don’t translate directly into what happens in a human.

If you use any dietary supplement, make sure your medical team knows this.  It is very important, even if you feel they “disapprove” of your use of dietary supplements, to let them know you are doing so.  It’s much safer and better for you to have all of your medical team informed.

I hope this information is helpful.

Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD

Guide to Colon Cancer


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