Writing in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology and Physics scientists noted a difference between two groups of cancer patient's recovery rates over three years. Researchers from the Department of Radiation Oncology in China set out to evaluate the impact of zinc supplementation on the survival of patients after receiving radiotherapy for head and neck cancers. They found that while a small improvement was found in the patients taking zinc supplements, further follow-up work was needed to come up with concrete conclusions. The news adds some weight to an increasing body of evidence supporting the benefits of taking zinc supplements. Supplementation of the metal has been scientifically linked to boosting mental performance in children, reducing risk of infection in the elderly, and having potential in reducing cardiovascular disease. In the double-blind, randomized, placebo controlled experiment one hundred patients were divided into two groups and given either a dose of zinc supplement or a placebo. They noted that patients in both groups appeared to have similar results for three-year overall, disease-free, and metastases-free survival rates. However, they found patients in the experimental group had better three-year local-free survival (LFS), although the difference was only "marginal." Researchers also found that patients in the experimental group with Stages III-IV disease had a much better three-year survival figures when they received concurrent chemoradiotherapy. They concluded that zinc supplementation improved LFS at three years after beginning treatment for patients with Stages III-IV disease. "It is imperative that these patients be followed up for a longer period to draw a definite conclusion," they added. Zinc is one of the most plentiful trace elements in the body, second only to iron. It mediates many physiological functions and is believed to be essential for maintaining a healthy immune system. Source: International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology and Physics Effects of Zinc Supplementation on Clinical Outcomes in Patients Receiving Radiotherapy for Head and Neck Cancers: A Double-Blinded Randomized Study. Authors: L Lin, J Que, K Lin, H Leung, C Lu, C Chang.