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Welfare Fund Medical Learning Series

Herb and dietary supplement safety
New York Teacher
Jonathan Fickies
Dr. Deng tells members about the benefits of ginger as he tries to help them sort out fact from fiction about herbal supplements and natural cures.

Cancer patients are exposed to a lot of confusing messages from advertisements and wellness media about herbal supplements and natural cures, said Dr. Gary Deng, an integrative medicine specialist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. Dr. Deng helped set the record straight for nearly 100 people who turned out on Nov. 9 for his presentation on herb and dietary supplement safety, part of the UFT Welfare Fund’s Medical Learning Series. Dr. Deng, who specializes in non-drug-based therapy for cancer patients, said that as a result of their confusion, a common question patients ask is, “What should I eat?” Dr. Deng helps answer that question, and others, by separating truth from hype when it comes to supplements — wisdom he shared at the UFT workshop at union headquarters. While many substances have been found to kill cancer cells in a test tube, he said, most of them would be unhealthy for humans in the necessary quantities. “Like vodka,” he quipped. He also highlighted supplements that do have salubrious effects, including probiotics and herbs like butterbur, ginger and calendula. UFT retiree John Amato said, “Dr. Deng was so informative. He was amazing at simplifying complex aspects of supplement safety.” The workshop is part of a series of UFT Welfare Fund-sponsored programs designed to educate members about health and wellness issues. 

Related Topics: Medical Learning Series