ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Pain-Relieving Powers of Acupuncture Unclear
Acupuncture May Not Help Hot Flashes
The Zen Way to Pain Relief
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Beware of Dog Bites
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Extra Pounds in Mid-Life Affect Later Mobility
Fruits and Veggies May Strengthen Bones
Study Shows Exercise Shields Against Osteoporosis
CANCER
More Cancer Tests Mean More False-Positive Results
Green Tea May Help Prevent Oral Cancer
Red Meat No No No But Oily Fish Yes Yes Yes
CAREGIVING
Hospital Practices Influence Which Moms Will Breast-Feed
Hispanic Children More Likely to Have Hearing Loss
Coordination Has Led to Quicker Heart Treatment
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
DENTAL, ORAL
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
Dental Implants Need More Work Than Root Canals
DIABETES
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Asparagus May Ease Hangover
Proven Strategies for Avoiding Colds and the Flu
Keep Stress Off the Holiday Meal Menu, Expert Advises
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Air Pollution Raises Risk of Heart Disease, Death
Household Chemicals May Affect Cholesterol Levels
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
EYE CARE, VISION
Thyroid Problems Boost Glaucoma Risk
Stem Cells Repair Damaged Corneas in Mice
Omega-3 Foods May Lower Eye Disease Risk
FITNESS
Diet, Exercise May Slow Kidney Disease Progression
Will the Wii Keep You Fit?
Living With Less TV, More Sweat Boosts Weight Loss
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
Maximize Your Run
Olde Time Medicine Therapy May Prevent Alcoholic Relapse
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Ginkgo Won't Prevent Heart Attack, Stroke in Elderly
Lack of Vitamin D Linked to High Blood Pressure
Kids With Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Heart Trouble
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Pool Chemicals Raise Kids Allergy, Asthma Risk
Don't Leave Your Kids In The Car !
Treat Kids to a Safe Halloween
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
MENTAL HEALTH
Fear Response May Stem From Protein in Brain
Breast-Fed Baby May Mean Better Behaved Child
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
SENIORS
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
Vitamin D May Help Keep Aging at Bay
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
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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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