Acupuncture, Hot Flashes, & Breast Cancer Patients
Italian trial finds the therapy was also linked to better quality of life among women in the study
By Alan Mozes
MONDAY, March 28, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Acupuncture can help alleviate the often-debilitating hot flashes that afflict many breast cancer patients, new Italian research says.
Noting that hot flashes are a fact of life for many women with breast cancer, the investigators found that pairing lifestyle advice with weekly acupuncture sessions dramatically improved the women's quality of life.
"Acupuncture together with enhanced self-care for three months is effective in reducing hot flashes in women with breast cancer," said study author Giorgia Razzini, a clinical trial project manager in the oncology unit of Ospedale di Carpi (Carpi Hospital), in Bologna, Italy.
And because hormone treatment for breast cancer typically makes the hot flash experience even worse, Razzini added, acupuncture could be a useful tool for helping such patients "stay on their therapy and improve their quality of life."
Razzini and colleagues published their findings online March 28 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
In the study, the Italian team focused on 190 breast cancer patients who had reported moderate (or worse) hot flashes while undergoing treatment at five cancer hospitals and one primary health care center in northern Italy between 2010 and 2013.
The patients, whose average age was 49, were randomly split into two groups. One group of 105 patients was offered a three-month regimen of self-care advice on diet, exercise and psychological support.
The second group, of 85, was offered the same advice in the same time frame along with 10 half-hour weekly sessions of "traditional" acupuncture.
All of the participants kept hot flash diaries. At the end of the three-month period (and for up to six months thereafter) daily hot flash experiences were assessed for changing severity and frequency.
The result: by the end of the treatment period, those in the acupuncture group were found to have hot flash scores that were 50 percent lower than those in the non-acupuncture group. The finding continued to hold up for a half-year after the acupuncture sessions ended.
Those in the acupuncture group also seemed to have a generally higher overall quality of life in terms of both physical and mental health, with no serious side effects, the study authors said.