ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Indian Spice May Thwart Liver Damage
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Higher Vitamin D Intake Could Cut Cancer Risk
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Safe Toys for Dogs
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Heart Failure Raises Risk of Fractures
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Chronic Low Back Pain Is on the Rise
CANCER
Where You Live May Affect Your Cancer Diagnosis
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Well Water Might Raise Bladder Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
Flu Strikes a Milder Blow This Season
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome as Deadly as Ever
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
DIABETES
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
Insulin Resistance Tied to Peripheral Artery Disease
DIET, NUTRITION
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Eat Up, But Eat Healthy This Holiday Season
Diet, Exercise May Slow Kidney Disease Progression
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Artificial Light Linked to Prostate Cancer Risk
Is It Safe to Go in the Gulf Coast's Water?
Cleaning House May Be Risky for Women With Asthma
EYE CARE, VISION
Clues Found to Brain Mechanism Behind Migraines
Diabetic Hispanics Missing Out on Eye Exams
Music Can Help Restore Stroke Patients' Sight
FITNESS
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Basketball Star Details His Struggle With Gout
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
GENERAL HEALTH
Pesticides and How to Affordably Eat Organic or Reduce Pesticide Consumption
'Organic' May Not Mean Healthier
Vitamin D Best Taken With Largest Meal of Day, Study Finds
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
Ginkgo Won't Prevent Heart Attack, Stroke in Elderly
Small Cuts in Salt Intake Spur Big Drops in Heart Trouble
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Scary Toxins Make Halloween Face Paints Questionable
Gene Variation Found in Boys With Delinquent Peers
Family Medicine Cabinet Top Source Of Kid's Poisonings
MEN'S HEALTH
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
MENTAL HEALTH
Drink Away Dementia?
Worries About Weight Are Tied to Teen Suicide Tries
Fear Response May Stem From Protein in Brain
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
SENIORS
Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement
Boost In Elderly Population Will Be Felt Worldwide
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
Simple Carbs Pose Heart Risk for Women
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Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer

TUESDAY, Sept. 16 (HealthDay News) -- For people coping with advanced cancer, massage therapy may offer some relief from pain and depressed mood, according to a new study.

Reporting in the Sept. 16 Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers found that people who received massage from a licensed, specially trained therapist reported greater improvements in pain and mood symptoms than did people who received simple touch. However, these improvements didn't last over time.

"Our goal was to see if massage therapy compared to simple touch would be beneficial," said the study's lead author, Dr. Jean Kutner, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine.

Measuring patient outcomes immediately after massage sessions, her team found that "massage was better than simple touch for pain and mood," she said.

"But, on a weekly basis, there was no difference between the groups," she added. "So, massage was better in the immediate time frame, but didn't appear to have a sustained effect."

The study included 380 adults with advanced cancer. All had at least moderate pain, and most were receiving hospice care. The types of cancer included lung, breast, pancreatic, colorectal and prostate.

About half of the group received at least one massage therapy session, while the remaining half was given "simple touch" therapy. Simple touch consisted of having a therapist place both hands on the patient for three minutes at 10 specific body sites. The massage therapy was done by licensed therapists trained in oncology massage who had at least six months' experience in cancer massage.

The therapists in both groups were asked to keep talking to a minimum and to simply provide instructions or answer therapy-related questions. No music or scented oils were used.

The therapists interviewed patients before and after each session, asking about pain and mood. The patients were then re-interviewed three weeks later to assess if the therapy had any long-term effect. Pain was rated on a scale of 0 (no pain) to 10 (worst pain). Mood was rated on a scale of 0 (worst mood) to 10 (best mood).

After massage therapy, mood scores immediately increased by an average of 1.58 points and pain scores decreased by 1.87 points. In the touch therapy group, mood immediately improved by an average of 0.97 points and pain decreased by an average of 0.97 points.

After three weeks, however, there were no statistically significant sustained changes, according to the study.

"If massage helps people with advanced cancer feel better, then I'd say great, do it," said Dr. Jay Brooks, chair of oncology and hematology at Ochsner Health Foundation in Baton Rouge, La. Brooks does recommend that anyone with cancer, especially those on active treatment regimens, should check with their doctor before getting a massage.

Kutner said that, although massage appears perfectly safe from this study, they didn't include people who had a high risk of bleeding or fractures.

If massage therapy is something you'd like to try, she advises finding a qualified therapist.

Kathleen Clayton, a licensed massage therapist and a spokesperson for the American Massage Therapy Association, agreed. "Make sure the person giving you a massage knows what they're doing. They need to be a licensed massage therapist and someone who has taken courses in oncology massage," she said, adding, "Massage can be a form of symptom relief and can improve your quality of life."

One caveat, however: Many insurance companies don't reimburse for the cost of massage therapy. But, Clayton said, some do, so be sure to check with your carrier.

-Serena Gordon

More information

Read more about massage for people with cancer at the University of California San Diego.



SOURCES: Jean Kutner, M.D., associate professor, medicine, University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine; Jay Brooks, M.D., chair, hematology/oncology, Ochsner Foundation Health System, Baton Rouge, La.; Kathleen Clayton, L.M.T., spokesperson, American Massage Therapy Association; Sept. 16, 2008 Annals of Internal Medicine

Last Updated: Sept. 16, 2008

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