ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Regular Yoga May Improve Eating Habits
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Tequila Plant May Help Fight Bone Loss
Most Women With Osteoporosis Unaware of Raised Fracture Risk
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
CANCER
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
CAREGIVING
Caring for Aging Loved Ones Can Be a Catch-22
More Than 60,000 Patients Risked Hepatitis Infections
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
COSMETIC
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
DIABETES
Formula Puts Doctor, Patient Glucose Readings on Same Page
Diabetes Linked to Cognitive Problems
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
DIET, NUTRITION
Diet, Exercise May Slow Kidney Disease Progression
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
TV Food Ads Promote Bad Diets
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Lead Exposure in Childhood Linked to Criminal Behavior Later
Skin Woes Take Toll on U.S. Combat Troops
Artificial Light Linked to Prostate Cancer Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Action-Filled Video Games Boost Adult Vision
Kids Think Glasses Make Others Look Smart, Honest
Nearly 18 Million Will Have Macular Degeneration by 2050
FITNESS
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
Go To Work But Skip The Car
Vigorous Treadmill Workout Curbs Appetite Hormones
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
Proven Strategies for Avoiding Colds and the Flu
Workplace Wellness Seems to Really Work
Go To Work But Skip The Car
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Lack of Vitamin D Linked to High Blood Pressure
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Health Tip: Back Pain in Children
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Gene Variation Found in Boys With Delinquent Peers
MEN'S HEALTH
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
SENIORS
Vitamin D May Help Keep Aging at Bay
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
Rapid Weight Loss in Seniors Signals Higher Dementia Risk
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
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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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