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Acupuncture Can Relieve Anti-Estrogen Side Effects

In breast cancer patients, it is as effective as venlafaxine without adverse side effects

MONDAY, Jan. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Acupuncture is as effective as the drug venlafaxine in relieving vasomotor symptoms caused by anti-estrogen hormone treatment for breast cancer, and it does not cause adverse events, according to a study published Dec. 28 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Eleanor M. Walker, M.D., of the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, and colleagues randomized 50 women with breast cancer on anti-estrogen hormone treatment, who had vasomotor symptoms such as night sweats and hot flashes, to receive 12 weeks of either acupuncture or venlafaxine. The group was followed for up to one year after treatment.

The researchers found that women in both the acupuncture and venlafaxine groups had significant reductions in the incidence of hot flashes and mental health symptoms, such as depression, during the treatment period. Two weeks after cessation of treatment, the venlafaxine group had a resurgence of hot flashes, while hot flashes remained low in the acupuncture group. Adverse effects were common in the venlafaxine group and included nausea, dry mouth, dizziness and anxiety, while there were no adverse effects in the acupuncture group. Also, some women reported increased energy, clarity of thought, feeling of well-being, and increased sex drive with acupuncture, which were not reported with venlafaxine.

"Given the results of this small randomized study, we feel that integrative therapies have a role in improving the quality of life of cancer patients and should be explored further as an option for treatment of cancer-related adverse effects," the authors write.

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