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|Acupuncture Reduces Side Effects of Breast Cancer Treatment As Much As Conventional Drug Therapy|
|Written by Administrator|
Acupuncture is as effective and longer-lasting in managing the common debilitating side effects of hot flashes, night sweats, and excessive sweating (vasomotor symptoms) associated with breast cancer treatment and has no treatment side effects compared to conventional drug therapy, according to a first-of-its-kind study presented September 24, 2008, at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology's 50th Annual Meeting in Boston.
Findings also show there were additional benefits to acupuncture treatment for breast cancer patients, such as an increased sense of well being, more energy, and in some cases, a higher sex drive, that were not experienced in those patients who underwent drug treatment for their hot flashes.
"Our study shows that physicians and patients have an additional therapy for something that affects the majority of breast cancer survivors and actually has benefits, as opposed to more side effects. The effect is more durable than a drug commonly used to treat these vasomotor symptoms and, ultimately, is more cost-effective for insurance companies," Eleanor Walker, M.D., lead author of the study and a radiation oncologist at the Henry Ford Hospital Department of Radiation Oncology in Detroit, said.
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. Although hormone replacement therapy is typically used to relieve these symptoms, breast cancer patients cannot use this therapy because it may increase the risk of the cancer coming back. As a treatment alternative, patients are generally treated with steroids and/or antidepressant drugs. These drugs, however, have additional side effects, such as weight gain, nausea, constipation and fatigue. The antidepressant, venlafaxine (Effexor), a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, is one of the most common drugs used to treat these hot flashes. However, many women decide against this treatment choice because of potential side effects, including decreased libido, insomnia, dizziness and nausea, or because they simply do not want to take any more medications.
For more information on radiation therapy for breast cancer, visit http://newswise.com/articles/view/544330/www.rtanswers.org.
Acupuncture (from Lat. acus, "needle", and pungere, "prick") refers to acupuncture together with moxibustion) is a technique of inserting and manipulating fine filiform needles into specific points on the body with the aim of of encouraging the body to promote natural healing and to improve functioning, including naturally relieving pain. Today's modern acupressure may also include applying heat or electrical stimulation at very precise acupuncture points.
Acupuncture originated in China and is most commonly associated with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Different types of acupuncture (Classical Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, Vietnamese and Korean acupuncture) are practiced and taught throughout the world.
How acupuncture works according to Chinese lore is that channels of energy called meridians, run in regular patterns through the body and over its surface. These energy channels, flow through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues. When these energy channels are obstructed it is believed to cause pain and illness. The goal of acupuncture is to release these channels allowing energy to properly flow through the body and energize the tissues. It is believed that these meridians can be influenced by needling the acupuncture points; the acupuncture needles unblock the obstructions at the dams, and reestablish the regular flow through the meridians. Acupuncture treatments can therefore help the body's internal organs to correct imbalances in their digestion, absorption, and energy production activities, and in the circulation of their energy through the meridians.
The modern scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones which influence the body's own internal regulating system. Through either explanation, scientific or classical it is believed that the improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture results in stimulating the body's natural healing abilities, and in promoting physical and emotional well-being.
About Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is a malignant (cancerous) tumor that starts from cells of the breast. The disease occurs mostly in women, but men can get breast cancer too. In the U.S., it affects one in eight women. There are many types of breast cancer, though some of them are very rare. Sometimes a breast tumor can be a combination of these types and to have a mixture of invasive and in situ cancer. The most common types of breast cancer are:
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