Acupuncture and Breast Cancer: Leading Charity begins World’s Largest Study

November 15, 2007 by  
Filed under CANCER

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Hi there, readers! Since I’ll be on the road travelling for the next two days, I asked Amanda Devereaux, one of my former bosses and best friends, to step in for me for the following guest post.   Amanda, who is blessed with both beauty and brains, has a Ph.D. in Microbiology and is currently working in a cancer research laboratory.  I’m sure you’ll find her opinions as entertaining as I do!

If any of you reading this are like me, there are two words that should never be spoken in the same sentence:  acupuncture (Aka: sharp, steel needles) and breast (soft, nerve-filled mammary tissue that hurts when poked with a sharp, steel needle).  I guess the British have a different approach on how to get their kicks than I do.  Different strokes for different folks, as the saying goes. 

All joking aside, the Breakthrough Breast Cancer charity in the UK is involved with a study that will investigate the effectiveness of acupuncture treatment in helping to alleviate fatigue in women undergoing chemotherapy.  Fatigue, nausea, and hot flashes are just a few of the side effects patients endure while undergoing treatment for their cancer.  To combat these unwanted symptoms, some patients have turned to complementary therapies to ease the side effects of chemotherapy, including massage, aromatherapy, and acupuncture

The study will include 320 women who have undergone chemotherapy within a 5 year limit and experience elevated levels of fatigue.  Patients will either receive 6 weekly sessions of acupuncture or standard care (kind of a vague option).  After the initial 6 week period, the acupuncture group will be split, and a group will continue to receive acupuncture treatment for an additional 4 weeks, another group will undertake self-acupuncture, and the last group will no longer be used as a pin cushion.  Fatigue levels of all patients will then be monitored for an additional three years. 

Now, I may be a little slow on some subjects, but I think that the last thing a cancer patient would need is to be stuck with another needle.  Every time they turn around, someone else is sticking them with needles.  Alternately, while I understand the benefits of these types of studies, and I am all for easing the suffering of any cancer patient, whose bright idea was it for people to STICK THEMSELVES WITH NEEDLES?????  It is bad enough when someone else sticks you with a needle.  Self-acupuncture, are you kidding me?  I can barely floss my teeth without taking out an eye, and most of the people that I meet everyday shouldn’t be trusted to walk around with scissors.  While I don’t particularly care for the use of acupuncture on my person, as I am a gutless weenie, I do believe that it may provide some health benefits when administered by a professional.  I look forward to following the progression of this study, along with the end results just to see how many people have lost an eye. 

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