ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
Naprapathy: A Hands-On Approach to Pain Management
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Most Women With Osteoporosis Unaware of Raised Fracture Risk
CANCER
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Healthy Behaviors Slow Functional Decline After Cancer
Red Meat No No No But Oily Fish Yes Yes Yes
CAREGIVING
Tiniest Babies Carry Biggest Costs
Hispanic Children More Likely to Have Hearing Loss
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
DIABETES
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
DIET, NUTRITION
Pesticides on Produce Tied to ADHD in Children
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Population-Based Strategy Urged to Cut U.S. Obesity Rate
Fish in U.S. Rivers Tainted With Common Medications
Exhaust From Railroad Diesel Linked to Lung Ailments
EYE CARE, VISION
Magnetic Pulses to Brain Improve Lazy Eye in Adults
Just Like Skin, Eyes Can 'Burn' in Strong Sun
Brain Pressure More Likely to Cause Vision Loss in Men
FITNESS
School Phys. Ed. Injuries Up 150 Percent
Basketball Star Details His Struggle With Gout
Exercise 30 Minutes a Day? Who Knew!
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
Meat Additives May Be Dangerous for Kidney Patients
Go To Work But Skip The Car
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Obese People Seem to Do Better With Heart Disease
Lack of Vitamin D Linked to High Blood Pressure
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
6 Million U.S. Kids Lack Enough Vitamin D
Babies Cared For In Others Homes Might Become Heavy Toddlers
Coconut Oil May Help Fight Childhood Pneumonia
MEN'S HEALTH
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
MENTAL HEALTH
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Breast-Fed Baby May Mean Better Behaved Child
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
SENIORS
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
Money May Matter, Health-Wise, in Old Age
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Iodine in Prenatal Vitamins Varies Widely
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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