Having breast cancer is an extremely difficult process. Your body wages a war against cancer cells and your emotions may slide into fear, grief, anger, anxiety and depression.
And unfortunately, the side effects from breast cancer treatments can make it even worse.
Until now, many people thought they had to suffer through all of the discomfort. But new research shows that acupuncture is very effective at relieving the side effects of breast cancer treatments.
Acupuncture Relieves Cancer-Related Fatigue
Cancer-related fatigue is a common symptom for breast cancer patients. In fact, more than 40% of women experience moderate to severe fatigue, sometimes for years after the treatment stops.
In a new study at the University of Manchester in England, researchers found that acupuncture reduced fatigue in breast cancer patients.
In this study approximately 227 women with breast cancer were chosen to undergo 6 weeks of weekly acupuncture sessions in addition to their normal cancer treatments. 75 women continued with their regular treatments, but did not have acupuncture. All women were given a booklet about managing their fatigue.
By the end of the 6 weeks, the women who had received acupuncture treatments reported feeling much better in their overall fatigue, physical and mental fatigue than their counterparts who did not receive acupuncture. They also reported improvements in their levels of anxiety and depression, well-being and overall quality of life.
Acupuncture Reduces Hot Flashes
Hot flashes are another common side effect of breast cancer treatments. Hormone treatments are widely used for breast cancer, especially for hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. These treatments induce menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. Usually doctors prescribe hormone treatments to reduce menopausal symptoms, but in this case they are inappropriate. This leaves women without any symptom relief.
In previous studies, acupuncture provided safe, effective relief from hot flashes in menopausal women. In a joint study with Yale University and the University of Pittsburg, researchers decided to see if it worked for women experiencing the same symptoms from breast cancer treatments.
Thirty-nine women were divided into 3 groups, each of which came in 8 times over 12 weeks. The first acupuncture group received acupuncture treatments specifically addressing their symptoms. The second acupuncture group received acupuncture treatments in points unrelated to their symptoms. Finally, the control group received educational materials for symptom relief and healthy lifestyle.
The results? The groups receiving acupuncture showed a 30% reduction in hot flashes while the control group showed no change.
Acupuncture Reduces Joint Pain
Breast cancer hormone therapy can produce another common complaint—joint pain and stiffness.
Researchers at Columbia University divided 51 women into 2 groups. One group received true acupuncture for 6 weeks and the other received “fake” acupuncture.
The women receiving true acupuncture reported a significant decrease in joint pain. 20% reported no longer needing pain medications. Best of all, overall physical well-being increased.
The women with fake acupuncture showed no improvements. The researchers concluded acupuncture is a great way to manage joint pain and stiffness.
Improve Your Well-Being
These studies show that acupuncture is a great support women with their cancer treatments. It has few side effects and is effective for many women. Without so many uncomfortable side effects, you’re free to focus on healing.
You don’t have to go on needlessly suffering from the side effects of your treatments. They are manageable. I have been able to help many women in your situation improve their quality of life while undergoing chemo and/or radiation therapies. I can make you more comfortable and help relieve the unpleasant side effects of your cancer treatments. If you are undergoing breast cancer treatments, call me today to discuss solutions to your specific situation.