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Acupuncture, even when done wrong, can help ease side-effects of cancer drugs

Dec. 27, 2013



Acupuncture can help alleviate side-effects of drugs often used to treat breast cancer, even if it's not done correctly, a new study has found.

Researchers from the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center in Baltimore recruited 47 breast cancer survivors taking an aromatase inhibitor — which stops the enzyme that produces estrogen in postmenopausal women — and for eight weeks, had half the women go for weekly acupuncture treatments, while the other half received a fake acupuncture treatment that involved non-penetrating, retractable needles placed on non-acupuncture points.

All the women reported experiencing fewer symptoms, especially hot flashes. The study found, however, there was little difference between those who received actual acupuncture, and those whose therapy was a sham.

Still, the research is important because it shows acupuncture helps with side-effects without negatively affecting the patient, researcher Ting Bao said.

The study was published online Monday in the journal Cancer.

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