ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Should Your Child Be Seeing a Chiropractor?
Uncover Why Turmeric Helps You Heal
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Beware of Dog Bites
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Alcohol Abuse Can Damage Bones
Varicose, Spider Veins May Be Inevitable for Some
Almost Half of Adults Will Develop Knee Osteoarthritis by 85
CANCER
Smokeout '08: The Perfect Time to Quit
Gene Screen May Predict Colon Cancer's Return
Selenium, Omega-3s May Stave Off Colorectal Cancer
CAREGIVING
Early Exercise Boosts Outcomes for ICU Patients
Flu Strikes a Milder Blow This Season
Child's Food Allergies Take Toll on Family Plans
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
COSMETIC
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
DIABETES
Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
School Meals Need to Get Healthier
The High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) Debate
More Educated Choose Healthier Foods, But Pay More
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
What's Cookin'? It Could Be Air Pollution
Warmer-Than-Average Temperatures Raise Migraine Risk
Global Warming Linked to Heightened Kidney Stone Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Kids Who Spend More Time Outdoors Have Better Vision
Retinal Gene Is Linked to Childhood Blindness
FDA Goes After Unapproved Eye Washes, Skin Ointments
FITNESS
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
Diet, Exercise May Slow Kidney Disease Progression
Study Shows Exercise Shields Against Osteoporosis
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
GENERAL HEALTH
Eating Lots Of Vegetables, Olive Oil May Extend Life
Go To Work But Skip The Car
Heavy Alcohol Use Linked to Cancer
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Ingredient in Dark Chocolate Could Guard Against Stroke
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
Teen Stress May Have Roots in First Three Years of Life
Don't Leave Your Kids In The Car !
MEN'S HEALTH
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
MENTAL HEALTH
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
SENIORS
Healthy Diet Could Cut Alzheimer's Disease Risk
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Laughter Can Stimulate a Dull Appetite
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. 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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