Acupuncture eases cancer drugs side effects in study
Acupuncture has been performed as a healing treatment for generations by cultures around the world. Now, a small randomized trial found this practice may help ease side effects in women being treated for breast cancer.
Published in the journal Cancer, women treated for breast cancer through estrogen-lowering drugs like aromatase inhibitors saw their menopausal side effects improve through acupuncture.
In the trial, 47 random breast cancer patients underwent eight weekly rounds of either sham or real acupuncture. For the real acupuncture, people had needles placed in their bodies at certain target points believed to aid menopause symptoms. The controls had non-penetrating needles placed in sham acupuncture points. No one knew which patients received the real treatments or sham treatments.
Throughout the trial, patients kept daily diaries and answered a series of questionnaires on the frequency and severity of their menopausal symptoms. The results showed symptoms improved for both sets of patients, especially hot flashes.
How could the symptoms improve for the control group as well? Researchers noted it may have been the placebo effect, or suggest the slight pricking of the skin could trigger physiological differences.