ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Maggots as Good as Gel in Leg Ulcer Treatments
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Beware of Dog Bites
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Chronic Low Back Pain Is on the Rise
Using a Balloon to Repair a Broken Back
CANCER
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Sharing Cancer Info May Be Empowering
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
CAREGIVING
Children's Bath Products Contain Contaminants
Child's Food Allergies Take Toll on Family Plans
Most Women Struggle With Rising Health Care Costs
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
COSMETIC
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
DENTAL, ORAL
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
DIABETES
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
24 Million Americans Had Diabetes in 2007
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating More Soy May Be Good For Your Lung Function
Eating your way to Good Health
Atkins Diet Tougher on Heart After Weight Loss
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Controversial Chemical Lingers Longer in the Body
Dementia Underestimated in Developing Countries
Gene Explains How High-Fructose Diets Lead to Insulin Resistance
EYE CARE, VISION
Action-Filled Video Games Boost Adult Vision
Gene-Transfer Proves Safe for Vision Problem
Nutrient-Rich Diet Lowers Risk of Age-Related Eye Disease
FITNESS
Barefoot Best for Running?
Run for Your Life
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
GENERAL HEALTH
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
For Women, Moderate Midlife Drinking Linked to Healthier Old Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
Psychiatric Drugs Might Raise Cardiac Death Risk
Brown Rice Tied to Better Heart Health in Study
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Exercise Eases Obesity and Anger in Kids
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Plastics Chemical Tied to Aggression in Young Girls
MEN'S HEALTH
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
MENTAL HEALTH
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
Music Soothes Anxiety as Well as Massage Does
Positive Brain Changes Seen After Body-Mind Meditation
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
SENIORS
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Natural Childbirth Moms More Attuned to Babies' Cry
Soy May Not Lead to Denser Breasts
Natural Therapies for Menopause
Add your Article

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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