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Breast cancer and its treatments can increase the likelihood of anxiety, depression, fatigue, insomnia, pain, stress and more. To subdue these negative effects, up to 86 percent of people with breast cancer turn to complementary therapies such as acupuncture, dietary supplements, meditation and yoga, according to a study published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.
Can they help? The Society for Integrative Oncology’s recently updated guidelines on complementary therapies for use during and after breast cancer treatment seek to answer that question.
In developing the guidelines, 12 researchers from health organizations worldwide reviewed studies on more than 80 complementary therapies. They graded the effectiveness of each at relieving the side effects above. (An A or B grade is positive.)
Below, the therapies found to be most effective. Keep in mind that they don’t treat breast cancer itself, notes Heather Greenlee, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and lead author of the guidelines. Before you try any of these therapies, you should talk with your doctor. And be sure to use a credentialed practitioner, recommends Linda Carlson, a professor in the department of oncology at the University of Calgary and one of the guidelines’ authors.
Acupressure is a traditional Asian therapy that involves putting pressure on specific parts of the body. In electroacupuncture, needles are placed in the body and a small electric pulse is passed through the needle.
The researchers found that both helped ease nausea and vomiting in breast cancer patients when used alongside conventional anti-nausea drugs during chemotherapy, and…