Acupuncture helps ease hot flashes in cancer treatment
Acupuncture might help reduce the hot flashes that frequently affect prostate cancer patients while they’re on hormone therapy.
Acupuncture, a popular form of alternative medicine, involves inserting ultrathin needles into the skin.
Hormone therapy designed to reduce levels of testosterone in the body is one of the standard treatments for prostate cancer. However, about half of patients who undergo hormone therapy suffer from hot flashes similar to those that women experience during menopause. It is a nuisance as 60 percent of men on hormonal treatment get hot flashes. Usually it’s mild and selflimiting and improves with time. But there are some men who suffer.
Researchers followed 14 American men who were taking hormone treatment for prostate cancer and suffered from hot flashes. They received acupuncture twice a week for 30 minutes over four weeks. Their reported level of hot flashes dropped markedly.
It is not clear whether the acupuncture reduced the hot flashes or a placebo effect played a role. It’s also possible that the symptoms went away on their own, which commonly happens to men on hormone therapy. However, clearly these men described getting better, and it happened over a very short period of time. The study also found that acupuncture relieved palpitations and anxiety often associated with hormone therapy for prostate cancer.
Though small and not conclusive, the study shows that physicians and patients have an additional treatment for something that affects many men undergoing prostate cancer treatment and actually has longterm benefits, as opposed to more side effects.