ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Acupuncture May Not Help Hot Flashes
Holistic Treatment for Candida Infection
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Tequila Plant May Help Fight Bone Loss
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
'Snowbirds' Beware the Climate Changes
CANCER
Red Meat No No No But Oily Fish Yes Yes Yes
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Adding Garlic Might Cut 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
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
Health Tip: After Liposuction
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
DIABETES
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
Asparagus May Ease Hangover
Fatty Acid in Olive Oil Wards Off Hunger
Compound in Berries May Lessen Sun Damage
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Preparing for a Chlorine Gas Disaster
Prenatal Exposure to Traffic Pollution May Lead to Asthma
Bed Bugs Bring No Disease Danger
EYE CARE, VISION
Protein Might One Day Prevent Blindness
Sports Eye Injuries Leading Cause of Blindness in Youths
Action-Filled Video Games Boost Adult Vision
FITNESS
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
As Temperature Plummets, It's Still Safe to Exercise
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
Olde Time Medicine Therapy May Prevent Alcoholic Relapse
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
Winter's Bitter Cold Poses Health Dangers
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Fewer Heart Attacks After England Goes Smoke-Free
Fructose Boosts Blood Pressure, Studies Find
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Exercise Eases Obesity and Anger in Kids
Folic Acid Reduces Infant Heart Defects
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
MEN'S HEALTH
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
MENTAL HEALTH
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
Drink Away Dementia?
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
SENIORS
Vitamin D May Help Keep Aging at Bay
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Heal Your Life® Tips for Living Well
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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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