No votes yet

Herbs or Natural Products That May Cause Cancer and Harm: Part Four of a Four-Part Series

Muriel J. Montbriand
ONF 2005, 32(1), E20-E29 DOI: 10.1188/05.ONF.E20-E29

Purpose/Objectives: To provide evidence-based research information about 27 herbs and natural products that have the potential to cause cancer and harm.


Asnis, D.S., Saltzman, H.P., & Melchert, A. (1993). Shark oil pneumonia. An overlooked entity. <i>Chest, 103</i>, 976-977.

Bisset, N.G. (Ed.). (1994). <i>Max Wichtl herbal drugs and phytopharmaceuticals. A handbook for practice on a scientific basis.</i> London: Medpharm Scientific Publishers Stuttgart.

Blumenthal, M., Busse, W.R., Goldberg, A., Gruenwald, J., Hall, T., Riggins, C.W., et al. (Eds.). (1998). <i>The complete German commission E monographs: Therapeutic guide to herbal medicines</i> (S. Klein, Trans.). Boston: American Botanical Council.

Brigden, M.L. (1995). Unproven (questionable) cancer therapies. <i>Western Journal of Medicine, 163</i>, 463-469.

Chan, J.M., Giovannucci, E., Andersson, S.O., Yuen, J., Adami, H.O., & Wolk, A. (1998). Dairy products, calcium, phosphorous, vitamin D, and risk of prostate cancer. <i>Cancer Causes and Control, 9</i>, 559-566.

Chen, W.J., Chang, C.Y., & Lin, J.K. (2003). Induction of G1 phase arrest in MCF human breast cancer cells by pentagalloylglucose through the down-regulation of CDK4 and CDK2 activities and up-regulation of the CDK inhibitors p27(Kip) and p21(Cip). <i>Biochemical Pharmacology, 65</i>, 1777-1785.

Chevallier, A. (2000). <i>Natural health encyclopedia of herbal medicine</i> (2nd ed.). New York: DK.

Cohle, S.D., Trestrail, J.D., III, Graham, M.A., Oxley, D.W., Walp, B., & Jachimczyk, J. (1988). Fatal pepper aspiration. <i>American Journal of Diseases of Children, 142</i>, 633-636.

Cooper, D.A., Eldridge, A.L., & Peters, J.C. (1999). Dietary carotenoids and certain cancers, heart disease, and age-related macular degeneration: A review of recent research. <i>Nutrition Reviews, 57</i>, 201-214.

Duke, J.A. (1987). <i>CRC handbook of medicinal herbs</i> (5th ed.). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Duke, J.A., & Vasquez, R. (1994). <i>Amazonian ethnobotanical dictionary.</i> Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

The effect of vitamin E and beta carotene on the incidence of lung and other cancers in male smokers. Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta Carotene Cancer Prevention Study Group. (1994). <i>New England Journal of Medicine, 330</i>, 1029-1035.

Ellenhorn, M.J. (1997). <i>Ellenhorn's medical toxicology: Diagnoses and treatment of human poisoning</i> (2nd ed.). Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins.

el-Mofty, M.M., Khudoley, V.V., & Shwaireb, M.H. (1991). Carcinogenic effect of force-feeding an extract of black pepper (Piper nigrum) in Egyptian toads (Bufo regularis). <i>Oncology, 48</i>, 347-350.

Facts and Comparisons. (2001). <i>The Lawrence review of natural products-monograph system.</i> St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwer.

Fetrow, C.W., & Avila, J.R. (1999). <i>Professional's handbook of complementary and alternative medicines.</i> Springhouse, PA: Springhouse.

Foster, S., & Duke, J.A. (1990). <i>A field guide to medicinal plants: Eastern and Central North America (Vol. 40).</i> Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Foster, S., & Tyler, V.E. (1999). <i>Tyler's honest herbal</i> (4th ed.). Binghamton, NY: Haworth Herbal Press.

Fujiki, H., Suganuma, M., Kurusu, M., Okabe, S., Imayoshi, Y., Taniguchi, S., et al. (2003). New TNF-alpha releasing inhibitors as cancer preventive agents from traditional herbal medicine and combination cancer prevention study with EGCG and sulindac or tamoxifen. <i>Mutation Research, 523-524</i>, 119-125.

Godley, P.A. (1995). Essential fatty acid consumption and risk of breast cancer. <i>Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, 35</i>, 91-95.

Gruenwald, J., Brendler, T., & Jaenicke, C. (Eds.). (1998). <i>PDR for herbal medicines.</i> Montvale, NJ: Thomson Healthcare.

Hasle, H., & Rose, C. (1991). [Shark liver oil (alkoxyglycerol) and cancer treatment]. <i>Ugeskr Laeger, 153</i>, 343-346.

Health and Welfare Canada. (1990). <i>Nutrition recommendations.</i> Ottawa, Canada: Canadian Government Publishing Centre.

Heinonen, O.P., Albanes, D., Virtamo, J., Taylor, P.R., Huttunen, J.K., Hartman, A.M., et al. (1998). Prostate cancer and supplementation with alphatocopherol and beta-carotene: Incidence and mortality in a controlled trial. <i>Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 90</i>, 440-446.

Henderson, L., Yue, Q.Y., Bergquist, C., Gerden, B., & Arlett, P. (2002). St John's wort (Hypericum perforatum): Drug interactions and clinical outcomes. <i>British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 54</i>, 349-356.

Hennessy, M., Kelleher, D., Spiers, J.P., Barry, M., Kavanagh, P., Back, D., et al. (2002). St Johns wort increases expression of P-glycoprotein: Implications for drug interactions. <i>British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 53</i>, 75-82.

Hwang, D.H., Chanmugam, P.S., Ryan, D.H., Boudreau, M.D., Windhauser, M.M., Tulley, R.T., et al. (1997). Does vegetable oil attenuate the beneficial effects of fish oil in reducing risk factors for cardiovascular disease? <i>American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 66</i>, 89-96.

Kempers, S., Katz, H.I., Wildnauer, R., & Green, B. (1998). An evaluation of the effect of an alpha hydroxy acid-blend skin cream in the cosmetic improvement of symptoms of moderate to severe xerosis, epidermolytic hyperkeratosis and ichthyosis. <i>Cutis, 61</i>, 347-350.

Kim, H.L., Streltzer, J., & Goebert, D. (1999). St. John's wort for depression: A meta analysis of well-defined clinical trials. <i>Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 187</i>, 532-538.

Krajka-Kuzniak, V., & Baer-Dubowska, W. (2003). The effects of tannic acid on cytochrome P450 and phase II enzymes in mouse liver and kidney. <i>Toxicology Letters, 143</i>, 209-216.

Labieniec, M., & Gabryelak, T. (2003). Effects of tannins on Chinese hamster cell line B14. <i>Mutation Research, 539</i>, 127-135.

La Vecchia, C., Negri, E., Franceschi, S., & Decarli, A. (1997). Case-control study on influence of methionine, nitrite, and salt on gastric carcinogenesis in northern Italy. <i>Nutrition and Cancer, 27</i>, 65-68.

Lee, J.S., Im, J.G., Song, K.S., Seo, J.B., & Lim, T.H. (1999). Exogenous lipoid pneumonia: High-resolution CT findings. <i>European Radiology, 9</i>, 287-291.

Lee, J.Y., Lee, K.S., Kim, T.S., Yoon, H.K., Han, B.K, Han, J., et al. (1999). Squalene-induced extrinsic lipoid pneumonia: Serial radiologic findings in nine patients. <i>Journal of Computer Assisted Tomography, 23</i>, 730-735.

Leung, A.Y., & Foster, S. (1996). <i>Encyclopedia of common natural ingredients used in food, drugs, and cosmetics</i> (2nd ed.). New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Lust, J. (1974). <i>The herb book.</i> New York: Bantam Books.

Marienfeld, C., Tadlock, L., Yamagiwa, Y., & Patel, T. (2003). Inhibition of cholangiocarcinoma growth by tannic acid. <i>Hepatology, 37</i>, 1097-1104.

Martindale, W. (1999). <i>Martindale: The extra pharmacopoeia</i> (32nd ed.). London: Pharmaceutical Press.

Marz, R.W., Ismail, C., & Popp, M.A. (1999). [Profile and effectiveness of a phytogenic combination preparation for the treatment of sinusitis.] <i>Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift, 149</i>, 202-208.

McEvoy, G.K. (Ed.). (1998). <i>AHFS drug information.</i> Bethesda, MD: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

McGuffin, M., Hobbs, C., Upton, R., & Goldberg, A. (1997). <i>American Herbal Products Association's botanical safety handbook.</i> Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Micromedex Inc. (2004). <i>Micromedex healthcare series.</i> Englewood, CO: Author.

Montbriand, M.J. (1994). An overview of alternate therapies chosen by patients with cancer. <i>Oncology Nursing Forum, 21</i>, 1547-1554.

Nalini, N., Sabitha, K., Viswanathan, P., & Menon, V.P. (1998). Influence of spices on the bacterial (enzyme) activity in experimental colon cancer. <i>Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 62</i>, 15-24.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. (2004). Therapeutic Research Faculty National database [Data file]. Available at <a target="_blank" href='http://www.naturaldatabase.com'>http://www.naturaldatabase.com</a>

Neubauer, N., & Marz, R.W. (1994). Placebo-controlled, randomized double-blind clinical trial with Sinupret sugar coated tablets on the basis of a therapy with antibiotics and decongestant nasal drops in acute sinusitis. <i>Phytomedicine, 1</i>, 177-181.

Newall, C.A., Anderson, L.A., & Phillipson, J.D. (1996). <i>Herbal medicines: A guide for health care professionals.</i> London: Pharmaceutical Press.

Nortier, J.L., Martinez, M.C., Schmeiser, H.H., Arlt, V.M., Bieler, C.A., Petein, M., et al. (2000). Urothelial carcinoma associated with the use of a Chinese herb (Aristolchia fangchi). <i>New England Journal of Medicine, 342</i>, 1686-1692.

Omenn, G.S. (1998). Chemoprevention of lung cancer: The rise and demise of beta-carotene. <i>Annual Review of Public Health, 19</i>, 73-99.

Omenn, G.S., Goodman, G.E., Thornquist, M.D., Balmes, J., Cullen, M.R., Glass, A., et al. (1996). Risk factors for lung cancer and for intervention effects in CARET, the beta-carotene and retinol efficacy trial. <i>Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 88</i>, 1550-1559.

Price, J.F., & Fowkes, F.G. (1997). Antioxidant vitamins in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. The epidemiological evidence. <i>European Heart Journal, 18</i>, 719-727.

Pryor, W.A., Stahl, W., & Rock, C.L. (2000). Beta carotene: From biochemistry to clinical trials. <i>Nutrition Reviews, 58</i>(2, Pt. 1), 39-53.

Richter, O. (2000). Several countries issue restrictions on St. John's wort. <i>Richter's Herbletter 7/30/00.</i> Retrieved March 7, 2002, from <a target="_blank" href='http://www.richters.com'>http://www.richters.com</a>

Robbers, J.E., & Tyler, V.E. (1999). <i>Tyler's herbs of choice: The therapeutic use of phytomedicinals.</i> New York: Haworth Herbal Press.

Roby, C.A., Anderson, G.D., Kantor, E., Dryer, D.A., & Burstein, A.H. (2000). St. John's wort: Effect on CYP3A4 activity. <i>Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 67</i>, 451-457.

Rose, D.P. (1996). The mechanistic rationale in support of dietary cancer prevention. <i>Preventive Medicine, 25</i>, 34-37.

Russell, I.J., Michalek, J.E., Flechas, J.D., & Abraham, G.E. (1995). Treatment of fibromyalgia syndrome with super malic: A randomized, double blind, placebo controlled, crossover pilot study. <i>Journal of Rheumatology, 22</i>, 953-958.

Schempp, C.M., Kirkin, V., Simon-Haarhaus, B., Kersten, A., Kiss, J., Termeer, C.C., et al. (2002). Inhibition of tumour cell growth by hyperforin, a novel anticancer drug from St. John's wort that acts by induction of apoptosis. <i>Oncogene, 21</i>, 1242-1250.

Schulz, V. (2001). Incidence and clinical relevance of the interactions and side effects of Hypericum preparations. <i>Phytomedicine, 8</i>, 152-160.

Schulz, V., Hansel, R., & Tyler, V.E. (1998). <i>Rational phytotherapy: A physician's guide to herbal medicine</i> (3rd ed.) (T.C. Telger, Trans.). Berlin, Germany: Springer.

Sheahan, K., Page, D.V., Kemper, T., & Suarez, R. (1988). Childhood sudden death secondary to accidental aspiration of black pepper. <i>American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, 9</i>, 51-53.

Singh, A., & Rao, A.R. (1993). Evaluation of the modulatory influence of black pepper (Piper nigrum, L.) on the hepatic detoxication system. <i>Cancer Letters, 72</i>, 5-9.

Skopinska-Rozewska, E., Krotkiewski, M., Sommer, E., Rogala, E., Filewska, M., Bialas-Chromiec, B., et al. (1999). Inhibitory effect of shark liver oil on cutaneous angiogenesis induced in Balb/c mice by syngeneic sarcoma L-1, human urinary bladder and human kidney tumour cells. <i>Oncology Reports, 6</i>, 1341-1344.

Stiller, M.J., Bartolone, J., Stern, R., Smith, S., Kollias, N., Gillies, R., et al. (1996). Topial 8% glycolic acid and 8% L-lactic acid creams for the treatment of photodamaged skin. A double-blind, vehicle-controlled clinical trial. <i>Archives of Dermatology, 132</i>, 631-636.

Sullivan, R.J., Allen, J.S., Otto, C., Tiobech, J., & Nero, K. (2000). Effects of chewing betel nut (Areca catechu) on the symptoms of people with schizophrenia in Palau, Micronesia. <i>British Journal of Psychiatry, 177</i>, 174-178.

Thun, M.J., Peto, R., Lopez, A.D., Monaco, J.H., Henley, S.J., Heath, C.W., Jr., et al. (1997). Alcohol consumption and mortality among middle-aged and elderly U.S. adults. <i>New England Journal of Medicine, 337</i>, 1705-1714.

Tyler, V.E. (1993). <i>The honest herbal: A sensible guide to the use of herbs and related remedies</i> (3rd ed.). Binghamton, NY: Pharmaceutical Products Press.

Tyler, V.E. (1994). <i>Herbs of choice: The therapeutic use of phytomedicinals.</i> Binghamton, NY: Pharmaceutical Products Press.

Vale, J.A., Meredith, T.J., & Goulding, R. (1981). Treatment of acetaminophen poisoning. The use of oral methionine. <i>Archives of Internal Medicine, 141</i>, 394-396.

VanWyk, C.W. (1997). Oral submucous fibrosis. The South African experience. <i>Indian Journal of Dental Research, 8</i>, 39-45.

Wang, Z., Gorski, J.C., Hamman, M.A., Huang, S.M., Lesko, L.J., & Hall, S.D. (2001). The effects of St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) on human cytochrome P450 activity. <i>Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 70</i>, 317-326.

Wehr, R., Krochmal, L., Bagatell, F., & Ragsdale, W. (1986). A controlled two-center study of lactate 12 percent lotion and a petroleum-based creme in patients with xerosis. <i>Cutis, 37</i>, 205-207, 209.

Weiner, M.A., & Weiner, J.A. (1994). <i>Herbs that heal: Prescription for herbal healing.</i> Mill Valley, CA: Quantum Books.

Yates, A.A., Schlicker, S.A., & Suitor, C.W. (1998). Dietary reference intakes: The new basis for recommendations for calcium and related nutrients, B vitamins, and choline. <i>Journal of American Dietetic Association, 98</i>, 699-706.

Zhang, S., Hunter, D.J., Forman, M.R., Rosner, B.A., Speizer, F.E., Colditz, G.A., et al. (1999). Dietary carotenoids and vitamins A, C, and E and risk of breast cancer. <i>Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 91</i>, 547-556.