Acupuncture in cancer study reignites debate about controversial technique

One of the largest-ever clinical trials into whether acupuncture can relieve pain in cancer patients has reignited a debate over the role of this contested technique in cancer care.
Oncologists who conducted a trial of real and sham acupuncture in 226 women at 11 different cancer centres across the United States say their results — presented on 7 December at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in Texas — conclude that the treatment significantly reduces pain in women receiving hormone therapy for breast cancer. They suggest it could help patients stick to life-saving cancer treatments, potentially improving survival rates. But sceptics say it is almost impossible to conduct completely rigorous double-blinded trials of acupuncture.
Interest in acupuncture has grown because of concerns over the use of opioid-based pain-relief drugs, which can have nasty side effects and are extremely addictive. Many cancer centres in the United States therefore offer complementary therapies for pain relief. Almost 90% of US National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centres suggest that patients try acupuncture, and just over 70% offer it as a treatment for side effects. That horrifies sceptics such as Steven Novella, a neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine and founder of the blog Science-Based Medicine. Acupuncture has no scientific basis, he says; recommending it is “telling patients that magic works”. 

Can magnets really ease the side-effects of chemo?

Could a simple magnet that you stick to your underwear really help with some of the unpleasant side-effects of breast cancer treatment?

It might sound extraordinary, not least because most doctors are sceptical about the health benefits of magnets. But this is not a marketing manager’s claim — it’s the belief of a breast cancer surgeon, and appears to be backed up by a small trial.

During breast cancer treatment, women who have yet to go through the menopause may develop such symptoms as hot flushes.
‘Chemotherapy can stop the ovaries from working, so the production of oestrogen is cut,’ says Tena Walters, a consultant breast surgeon at The London Breast Clinic and the Lister Hospital, Chelsea. ‘This has a similar effect to when oestrogen production falls at the menopause. The other big cause is hormonal treatments such as tamoxifen.’

These drugs are given to women who have had ‘oestrogen-receptor positive’ tumours — meaning their cancer is encouraged to grow and divide by the presence of oestrogen.

Source  - Daily Mail

Vitamin D could prevent rheumatoid arthritis

Vitamin D may prevent inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, new research reveals. 

The so-called 'sunshine supplement' strengthens the immune system, which helps to prevent the body from attacking healthy cells and causing autoimmune conditions, such as arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis, which causes joint swelling, may also benefit from vitamin D's anti-inflammatory effects. 

Yet, as the painful joint condition reduces a sufferer's vitamin D sensitivity, patients may not benefit from taking such supplements once they have developed the disorder, or at least not at recommended doses, according to the researchers.

Study author Dr Louisa Jeffery from the University of Birmingham, said: 'Our research indicates that maintaining sufficient vitamin D may help to prevent the onset of inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
'However, for patients who already have rheumatoid arthritis, simply providing vitamin D might not be enough. Instead much higher doses may be needed'.

Source  - Daily Mail