Many women suffering from breast cancer often complain of debilitating hot flashes that leaves them miserable and affects their quality of life. However, researchers based in Italy have reasons to believe that this annoying symptom can be dealt with by advising patients to go for acupuncture sessions weekly.
According to Giorgia Razzini, study author, and clinical trial manager at the oncology department, Carpi Hospital (Ospedale di Carpi), Bologna, Italy, combining self-care and acupuncture for a period of three months helps alleviate the hot flashes experienced by women diagnosed with breast cancer.
Hot flashes are common in breast cancer patients and become worse over time especially when undergoing hormone treatment. However, this may soon become a thing of the past if the findings from the Italian research are verified and approved.
The study which was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology studied 190 breast cancer patients who were undergoing hormone therapy and occasionally experienced hot flashes. The experiment focused on women who were seeking treatment in a healthy care centre and five cancer hospitals based in the northern part of Italy and ran from 2010 until 2013.
The participants whose median age was 49 years were divided into two main groups. The first lot consisted of 105 women who for three months engaged in exercises, received psychological support, and self-care advice. The other group of 85 women also got the same advice plus 10 weekly acupuncture sessions that lasted about 30 minutes for the three months.
The participants kept a diary of the hot flashes after the three-month period until six months were over. Attention was placed on the severity of the flashes as well as how frequent they occurred.
After analysing the results, the researchers discovered that the women who were engaged in acupuncture experienced fewer hot flashes compared to those who didn’t take part in the session. The final analysis was that a 30-minute acupuncture session spread out over 10 weeks reduced the occurrence of the hot flashes by 50 percent and the effects were still being observed six months after the experiment was concluded.
According to Razzini, acupuncture improved the condition since it allowed the vessels to dilate allowing more blood to flow through. Also, it relaxed the patient’s nervous system and stimulated the production and release of a neurotransmitter known as endorphins as well as a stress relieve hormone referred to as norepinephrine.
In addition to reducing the hot flashes and improving mood, acupuncture also made the women more relaxed and improved quality of life.