Acupuncture May Help Ease Hot Flashes

| October 1, 2012 | 0 Comments | 18 views
Acupuncture May Help Ease Hot Flashes

Dec. 31, 2009 -- Acupuncture not only cools hot flashes that occur as aresult of breast cancer treatment but may offer a host of other benefits toboost women's well-being.

A new study shows acupuncture was as good as drug therapy with Effexor(venlafaxine) at easing hot flashes in breast cancer patients, but it alsoimproved sex drive, energy levels, and clarity of thought.

"Acupuncture offers patients a safe, effective and durable treatment optionfor hot flashes, something that affects the majority of breast cancersurvivors. Compared to drug therapy, acupuncture actually has benefits, asopposed to more side effects," researcher Eleanor Walker, MD, division directorof breast services in the department of radiation oncology at Henry FordHospital in Detroit, says in a news release.

According to the National Cancer Institute, one in eight women will developbreast cancer in her lifetime. Typical treatment for breast cancer involveschemotherapy and five years of hormone therapy that often causes unpleasantside effects, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and decreased sex drive andenergy levels.

Researchers say these side effects of breast cancer treatment significantlydecrease a woman's quality of life and may cause some women to discontinuetreatment.

Acupuncture has already been shown to reduce hot flashes in menopausalwomen, but researchers say this is the first study to compare acupuncture todrug treatment in easing hot flashes in breast cancer patients. The resultsappear in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Fifty breast cancer patients were randomly assigned to receive eitheracupuncture or drug treatment for 12 weeks. The acupuncture group receivedacupuncture treatments twice per week for the first four weeks and then once aweek for the remaining eight weeks; the drug group received 37.5 milligrams ofEffexor each night for the first week and then 75 milligrams per night for theremaining 11 weeks.

All participants stopped their treatment after 12 weeks and kept a diary torecord the number and severity of hot flashes; they were surveyed about theiroverall physical and mental health for one year.

Both groups experienced a 50% decline in hot flashes and symptoms ofdepression, but the acupuncture treatment appeared to have more lasting effectswith fewer side effects.

For example, two weeks after the treatments stopped, the drug therapy groupexperienced an increase in hot flashes; the acupuncture group did notexperience any increase in the frequency of their hot flashes until threemonths after treatment.

In addition, the Effexor group reported 18 instances of negative sideeffects, including nausea, dry mouth, dizziness, and anxiety, compared with noadverse side effects reported among the acupuncture group.

Most breast cancer patients treated with acupuncture also reported animprovement in their energy, clarity of thought, and sense of well-being. About25% of women in the acupuncture group also reported an increase in their sexdrive.

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