ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Higher Vitamin D Intake Could Cut Cancer Risk
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Chronic Low Back Pain Is on the Rise
High Birth Weight Doubles Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
CANCER
Red Meat No No No But Oily Fish Yes Yes Yes
Study Cites Gains in Gall Bladder Cancer Treatment
Researchers ID Genetic Markers for Esophageal Cancer
CAREGIVING
Injected Medication Errors a Major Problem
Timing May Matter in Organ Donation Decisions
Health Tip: Benefitting From Adult Day Care
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
COSMETIC
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
DIABETES
Whole Grains Take a Bite Out of Type 2 Diabetes Risk
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
Fruit Even Healthier Than Thought: Study Shows
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
Compound in Red Wine Fights Ravages of Age
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Warmer-Than-Average Temperatures Raise Migraine Risk
Plastics Chemical Tied to Aggression in Young Girls
Fertilizer Ban Makes a Difference
EYE CARE, VISION
Statin Drugs Cause Eye Disorders
Decorative Halloween Eye Lenses May Pose Serious Risks
Kids Who Spend More Time Outdoors Have Better Vision
FITNESS
Exercise Guards White Blood Cells Against Aging
Go To Work But Skip The Car
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Vitamin D Best Taken With Largest Meal of Day, Study Finds
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Vinegar Might Help Keep Off Pounds
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Years of Heavy Smoking Raises Heart Risks
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
Irregular Heartbeat Tied to Alzheimer's Disease
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Coconut Oil May Help Fight Childhood Pneumonia
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
Combo Treatment Eases Wheezing in Babies
MEN'S HEALTH
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
MENTAL HEALTH
17 Ways to Create the Perfect Workday
The Unmedicated Mind
Brain Scans Show How Humans 'Hear' Emotion
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
SENIORS
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
For a Healthier Retirement, Work a Little
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
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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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