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Studies Show Acupuncture And Exercise Can Help Relieve Several Symptoms Associated with Breast Cancer

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New studies suggest that people suffering from breast cancer who are experiencing swelling and pain associated with their cancer can find acupuncture and exercise to be very helpful in the relief of swelling and pain.

One such study done in Philadelphia demonstrated that joint pain can be reduced by up to 40% with acupuncture treatments. Dr. Jun Mao, University of Pennsylvania director of Abramson Cancer Center’s integrative oncology program authored this study. He stated that the treatment works regardless of whether the patient thinks it would work or not.

Mao wanted to see the role a patient’s expectations of the treatment would play as opposed to other studies that have found acupuncture to be helpful for a variety of symptoms, including sleeping difficulties, fatigue, and joint pain.

Dr. Mao observed 41 breast cancer survivors. Some of them were administered with either electro-acupuncture treatment or a sham acupuncture treatment and then compared them to a control group who were given neither treatment. In an electro-acupuncture procedure, certain points of the body are stimulated with a small electrical current passed between two pairs of acupuncture needles. The cancer patients had no idea what treatment they were getting.

The women suffered from joint pain and/or stiffness, typical side effects one can expect when taking a hormonal treatment meant to treat breast cancer, aromatase inhibitors.

Mao said that “in real acupuncture the effectiveness of the treatment did not depend on whether the patient believed acupuncture would work or not.” “But in the sham treatment, the outcomes seemed to depend on the patient’s hopes and expectations for the treatment to work.”

Mao added that “the patients treated with real acupuncture had a consistent level of pain reduction while in the sham group, no change in pain was seen if there was a low expectation.” “The patients treated with sham acupuncture who had very high expectations produced positive results as high as 80%,” Mao said.

The doctor explained that the relief of pain from real acupuncture is usually dismissed as a “placebo effect.” He said that his results showed the opposite.” “In real acupuncture, pain reduction was not contingent to expectation. Regardless of the expectation, every patient treated with real acupuncture showed a reduction in pain by about 40%. This is 30% or more decline is considered significant,” the doctor added.

Mao said that “this means that real acupuncture can work for any patient regardless if he/she believes it will.”

The Journal of the National Cancer Institute Monographs published this study in its November issue. The cancer etiology at the acupuncture study of the city of Hope Cancer Center, in Duarte, Ca director, Leslie Bernstein said that “while the study was a solid piece of research, it’s still important to note that acupuncture may not work for everyone. “ However, on average, the treatment does work,” she stated this based on the results of the study.

Another study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and published in the same journal, observed how a community-based exercise program can be helpful for women with breast cancer that had lymphedema (a swelling of the limbs), decreased body image, and muscle problems.

The researchers previously did a similar study but it was confined to a research setting. This time they endeavored to test it in a community setting. Physical therapists administered the program which consisted of a program in which patients can continue at the gym or at home an exercise that was initially group-based.

After a year, a total of 67 breast cancer patients finished measurements. Their muscular strength, body image, and symptoms showed improvements. The community setting’s results were the same as those in the research setting.

Ms. Bernstein noted that “the exercise study revealed the challenges one can expect when doing and putting into practice a program that’s been found effective in research settings.” She added that “the study underlined the problems one can expect in what works as an intervention, and implementing it into the community.”

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Miami, FL 33129
(305) 677-3214

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Written by Valerie

October 20th, 2016 at 2:32 pm

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