By Diane Ting, Parent Herald | February 12, 5:25 AM
Acupuncture may help control hot flashes in women after receiving breast cancer treatment. The technique can also help relieve joint pain by nearly half.
In the study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, 120 breast cancer patients participated in the study, all of which were completing conventional treatments for the disease. All of them were experiencing moderate to severe hot flashes, which are temporary feelings of palpitation, sweating, and heat flowing towards to head.
People suffering from breast cancer often experience hot flashes after undergoing treatments that suppress female estrogen hormones. While hormone replacement therapy can help reduce hot flashes, estrogen can increase the risk of cancer, which makes the procedure, not a good option.
The participants were divided into four groups and given different types of interventions for eight weeks. The first group was given electro-acupuncture which delivers weak electric current through embedded needles, the second group "sham" electro-acupuncture without the use of needles, the third group a 900g dose of gabapentin daily and the fourth gabapentin placebo.
The study by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that hot flashes were least experienced in the electro-acupuncture group. The second group, which went through "Sham" electro-acupuncture, also revealed some improvements.
After a period of 16 weeks, researchers also noticed that the effects of acupuncture lasted longer than those who were given gabapentin and placebo as therapies. In addition, participants experienced worse hot flashes after stopping gabapentin consumption.
Acupuncture techniques work by elevating a person's level of endorphins. Consequently, this can stimulate the release of mood-elevating and pain-killing chemicals, according to Natural News.
In a different study conducted at the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, acupuncture helped reduce joint pain by up to 40 percent. In the study, 41 breast cancer survivors were assigned to an electro-acupuncture group and a "sham" acupuncture group.
"The real acupuncture group, regardless of expectation, everyone had about a 40 percent reduction in pain," Mao said. A decline of at least 30 percent or higher is regarded as significant. Aside from joint pain and effects of breast cancer treatments, acupuncture is also known as an effective way to combat fatigue and sleeping difficulties, according to Web MD.