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Spirituality Common Practice in Cancer Survivors

Other popular 'complementary methods' include relaxation, supplements and meditation

THURSDAY, Aug. 7 (HealthDay News) -- The majority of survivors of common cancers report using prayer or spiritual practices, and only a small percentage use hypnosis or acupuncture, according to research examining the prevalence of complementary medicine methods in cancer survivors, published online Aug. 4 in Cancer.

Ted Gansler, M.D., of the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data from 4,139 survivors of cancer of the breast, prostate, bladder and seven other high-incidence sites, who participated in a study from the organization.

The most common complementary method was prayer or spiritual practice, used by 61.4 percent of survivors, the researchers found. Other common methods included relaxation (44.3 percent), nutritional supplements (40.1 percent) and meditation (15 percent). Little-used methods included hypnosis (0.4 percent) and acupuncture or acupressure (1.2 percent). Younger age, female gender and higher income were some of the factors associated with greater likelihood of using complementary methods, the report indicates.

"Future research should explore the reasons for the demographic associations observed in this and other studies. It is unclear whether the low complementary method use in some population segments is evidence of gaps in awareness or inaccurate biases against complementary methods that prevent some survivors from benefiting from these interventions. Surprisingly, some complementary methods with good evidence for their effectiveness are rarely used (e.g., art therapy, acupuncture and hypnosis). Alternatively, complementary method use may accurately reflect the degree to which population segments benefit from these therapies," the authors write.

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