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

Dec. 27, 2013

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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.

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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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