-- Randy Dotinga
MONDAY, April 25 (HealthDay News) -- Acupuncture might help
reduce the hot flashes that frequently affect prostate cancer
patients while they're on hormone therapy, a small study
The findings don't confirm that the ancient Chinese discipline
relieves hot flashes, and only 14 men participated in the study,
which was conducted by researchers at New York Methodist Hospital
and Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University.
Still, "our study shows that physicians and patients have an
additional treatment for something that affects many men undergoing
prostate cancer treatment and actually has long-term benefits, as
opposed to more side effects," said lead author Dr. Hani Ashamalla,
a radiation oncologist at New York Methodist Hospital, in a news
release from the American Society for Radiation Oncology.
Acupuncture, a popular form of alternative medicine, involves
inserting ultra-thin needles into the skin.
"We are now designing a randomized clinical trial to further evaluate acupuncture after prostate cancer treatment," Ashamalla added.
Hormone therapy designed to reduce levels of testosterone in the
body is one of the standard treatments for prostate cancer.
However, about half of patients who undergo hormone therapy suffer
from hot flashes similar to those that women experience during
"It is a definite nuisance. I've seen reports that upwards of 60 percent of men will get hot flashes," said Dr. Stephen Freedland, an associate professor of urology and pathology at Duke University, in an interview. "Usually it's mild and self-limiting and improves with time. But there are some men who really have it bad."
In the study, researchers followed 14 men who were taking
hormone therapy for prostate cancer and suffered from hot
They received acupuncture twice a week for 30 minutes over four
weeks. Their reported level of hot flashes dropped markedly.
The question is whether the acupuncture reduced the hot flashes
or a placebo effect played a role, said Freedland, who's familiar
with the study findings.
It's also possible, he said, that the symptoms went away on
their own, which commonly happens to men on hormone therapy.
However, "clearly these men described getting better, and it
happened over a very short period of time," he said. "The symptoms
don't (normally) get better by that much that quickly."
The study, published in the April issue of the
International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology,
Physics, also found that acupuncture relieved the heart palpitations and anxiety often associated with hormone therapy for prostate cancer.
For more about
prostate cancer, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
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