ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Ginger Can Ease Nausea From Chemotherapy Treatments
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Tequila Plant May Help Fight Bone Loss
Body Fat, Muscle Distribution Linked to RA Disability
Most Women With Osteoporosis Unaware of Raised Fracture Risk
CANCER
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Mineral May Reduce High-Risk Bladder Disease
Vitamin E, Selenium and Soy Won't Prevent Prostate Cancer
CAREGIVING
Birthmark or Blood Vessel Problem?
Distance No Bar to Kidney Transplants in Remote Areas
Stressed Health Care Workers Battle 'Compassion Fatigue'
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
COSMETIC
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
DENTAL, ORAL
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
DIABETES
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
DIET, NUTRITION
Quick Weight Loss May Be Best for Long-Term Success
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
DASH Diet Has Extra Benefits for Women's Health
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Accumulated Lead May Affect Older Women's Brains
Ozone-Depleting Inhalers Being Phased Out
FDA Faulted for Stance on Chemical in Plastics
EYE CARE, VISION
Eye Disease, Cognitive Decline Linked in Study
Cases of Age-Related Farsightedness to Soar
Don't Lose Sight of Halloween Safety
FITNESS
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Antioxidants Blunt Exercise Benefit, Study Shows
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
Be Healthy, Spend Less
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Have a Goal in Life? You Might Live Longer
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
B-Vitamins Help Protect Against Stroke, Heart Disease
A Little Chocolate May Do the Heart Good
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Eating Fish, Breast-Feeding Boost Infant Development
Folic Acid Reduces Infant Heart Defects
Working Intensely Early on May Help Autistic Kids
MEN'S HEALTH
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
MENTAL HEALTH
Meditation May Boost College Students' Learning
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
Brain Scans Show How Humans 'Hear' Emotion
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
SENIORS
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. Women
Calcium Helps Ward Off Colon Cancer
Add your Article

Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine

MONDAY, Aug. 4 (HealthDay News) -- As many as 61 percent of cancer patients use complementary therapies such as prayer, relaxation, meditation and massage, researchers from the American Cancer Society report.

This new study echoes findings of other, smaller studies that also found that many cancer patients use complementary treatments. The kinds of methods used were influenced by sex, race, age, education, type of cancer and how far the disease has spread.

"Many complementary methods are extremely popular among cancer survivors, who are spending a lot of their time, money and attention on them," said study co-author Dr. Ted Gansler, the society's director of medical content. "For this reason, it is important to determine which are helpful, not only for shrinking tumors and extending survival, but also for relieving symptoms and improving quality of life."

For the study, published in the Sept. 1 issue of Cancer, Gansler's team collected data on 4,139 cancer survivors who participated in the American Cancer Society's Study of Cancer Survivors-I. The people were interviewed 10 to 24 months after diagnosis.

The use of some complementary methods by cancer survivors is very common, the study found. For example, 61.4 percent used prayer; 44.3 percent used relaxation techniques; 42.4 percent used faith/spiritual healing; 40.1 percent used nutritional supplements such as vitamins; 15 percent used meditation; 11.3 percent used religious counseling; 11.2 percent used massage; and 9.7 percent participated in support groups.

But other complementary methods aren't as common, the researchers found. Only 0.4 percent of survey participants used hypnosis; 1 percent used biofeedback therapy; and 1.2 percent used acupressure or acupuncture.

All types of complementary methods were more popular among women, Gansler said. Fifty-nine percent of women and 43 percent of men turned to methods such as aromatherapy, art therapy, support groups, hypnosis, imagery/visualization, meditation and relaxation.

And methods such as tai chi and yoga were used by 10.1 percent of women, compared with 1.9 percent of men. Massage was used by 16.6 percent of women, but only 3.9 percent of men, the study found.

"In general, younger, more educated and more affluent cancer survivors were more likely to use complementary methods," Gansler said. "People with more advanced cancer were more likely to be complementary-method users."

And, complementary methods are much more popular among breast and ovarian cancer survivors, Gansler said.

"This is not only because ovarian cancer is obviously limited to women and breast cancer is extremely rare among men. For example, all types of complementary methods were used more often by breast and ovarian cancer survivors than by uterine cancer survivors -- also women, of course," he said.

It's not clear why complementary methods are used more often by women with breast and ovarian cancer, Gansler added.

It's also not clear just how much benefit complementary therapies might confer, he said. "Scientific studies of complementary methods have become much more common during the past few years, but there is still a lot of uncertainty about the effectiveness of many complementary methods," he added.

"As more studies are done to evaluate effectiveness, we will want to know whether men are missing opportunities to use some effective complementary methods that are far more popular in women, or whether women use ineffective complementary methods more than men. Or whether some complementary methods are more effective for women than they are for men," Gansler said.

Alternative medicine expert Dr. Harold Burstein, an instructor in the Department of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, said, "This study, like many before it, confirms that cancer patients actively pursue a variety of alternative and complementary therapies, usually in conjunction with standard approaches to cancer treatment."

The motivations for such practices are worth exploring, Burstein said. "It is not known, but it is not thought that these have an impact on cancer-related outcomes, though many patients report deriving comfort, solace or symptom relief with such practices," he said.

-Steven Reinberg

More information

For more on complementary medicine, visit the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.



SOURCES: Ted Gansler, M.D., director, medical content, American Cancer Society, Atlanta; Harold Burstein, M.D., Ph.D., instructor, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston; Sept. 1, 2008, Cancer

Last Updated: Aug. 04, 2008

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