DETROIT Not only is acupuncture as effective as drug therapy at reducing hot flashes in breast cancer patients, it has the added benefit of potentially increasing a woman's sex drive and improving her sense of well-being, according to a Henry Ford Hospital study.
Study results show that acupuncture, when compared to drug therapy, has a longer-lasting effect on the reduction of hot flashes and night sweats for women receiving hormone therapy for breast cancer treatment. Women also report that acupuncture improves their energy and clarity of thought.
The study, published online this week in the Journal of Oncology, is the first randomly controlled trial to compare acupuncture and drug therapy in this way.
"Acupuncture offers patients a safe, effective and durable treatment option for hot flashes, something that affects the majority of breast cancer survivors. Compared to drug therapy, acupuncture actually has benefits, as opposed to more side effects," says study lead author Eleanor Walker, M.D., division director of breast services in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Henry Ford Hospital.
According to the National Cancer Institute, one in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. For these women, conventional medical treatment involves chemotherapy and five years of hormone therapy. With such a long course of treatment, side effects of hormone therapy such as vasomotor symptoms hot flashes and night sweats can become a major cause of decreased quality of life, and even discontinuation of treatment.
Venlafaxine (Effexor) has been the drug therapy of choice to manage these common and debilitating side effects associated with breast cancer treatment. Venlafixine, however, comes with its own set of side-effects: dry mouth, decreased appetite, nausea and constipation.
Since acupuncture has been shown to effectively reduce hot flashes in menopausal women, Dr. Walker and her research team de
|Contact: Krista Hopson|
Henry Ford Health System