Can acupuncture help breast cancer patients?

Published On: Sep 16 2011 04:57:14 PM EDT   Updated On: Aug 03 2009 02:11:38 AM EDT

Acupuncture can help breast cancer patients deal with the side effects of their treatment, according to a study.

In fact, researchers said, acupuncture does more than just treat hot flashes and sweating; they said it also increases a sense of well-being, gives more energy and a higher sex drive.

Those benefits were not seen in traditional medications, which can also carry negative side effects such as insomnia, dizziness and nausea, according to a news release on the study.

"The effect is more durable than a drug commonly used to treat these (excessive sweating) and, ultimately, is more cost-effective for insurance companies," said lead author Dr. Eleanor Walker, a radiation oncologist at the Henry Ford Hospital Department of Radiation Oncology in Detroit.

The reduction in hot flashes lasted longer for those breast cancer patients after completing their acupuncture treatment, compared to patients after stopping their drug therapy plan.

Eighty percent of women treated for breast cancer suffer from hot flashes after being treated with chemotherapy and/or anti-estrogen hormones, such as Tamoxifen and Arimidex.

The news release said the study was based on a randomized trial with 47 patients who had either acupuncture or venlafixine. Results showed that acupuncture reduced hot flashes as effectively as venlafaxine, with no side effects.


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