ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
The Zen Way to Pain Relief
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Safe Toys for Dogs
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Bone Loss Stable on Restricted Calorie Diet
Osteoporosis May Raise Risk for Vertigo
Improved Hip Implants Can Last 20 Years
CANCER
Healthy Behaviors Slow Functional Decline After Cancer
Vitamin D May Improve Melanoma Survival
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
CAREGIVING
Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome
Robots May Come to Aging Boomers' Rescue
Study Casts Doubt on Influential Hospital Safety Survey
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
DENTAL, ORAL
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Holistic Dentistry-My View
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
DIABETES
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
Strict Blood Sugar Lowering Won't Ease Diabetes Heart Risk
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
DIET, NUTRITION
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
Mediterranean Diet Enriched With Nuts Cuts Heart Risks
Added Sugars in Diet Threaten Heart Health
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Vitamin D Deficit May Trigger MS Risk Gene
Traffic Seems to Make Kids' Asthma Worse
Where You Live May Affect Your Cancer Diagnosis
EYE CARE, VISION
Action-Filled Video Games Boost Adult Vision
Blood Sugar Control Helps Diabetics Preserve Sight
Cases of Age-Related Farsightedness to Soar
FITNESS
Exercise Guards White Blood Cells Against Aging
Vigorous Exercise Can Cut Breast Cancer Risk
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
Maximize Your Run
Can You Talk Your Way to Happy?
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
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
Arteries Age Twice as Fast in Smokers
How Weight Loss Can Help the Heart
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
MEN'S HEALTH
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
Love Hormone May Ease Discussion of Painful Topics
Keeping a Healthy Holiday Balance
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
SENIORS
High-Impact Activity May Be Good for Old Bones
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
Boost In Elderly Population Will Be Felt Worldwide
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
Vitamin D Good for Breast Cancer Patients
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
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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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