A study from Norway suggests that acupuncture can give effective relief from hot flashes and night sweats in women treated with the drug tamoxifen after breast cancer surgery
Jill Hervik, a physiotherapist and acupuncturist at the Vestfold Central Hospital in Tonsberg, Norway, said breast cancer patients who received traditional Chinese acupuncture had a 50 percent reduction in hot flashes, both during the day and the night, and that this effect continued after the acupuncture ceased.
"Acupuncture is increasingly used in western countries to treat the problem of hot flushes in healthy post-menopausal women, so we wanted to see whether it was effective in women with breast cancer suffering from hot flushes as a result of their anti-estrogen medication," Hervik said in a statement.
Tamoxifen can cause many of the symptoms that occur during the menopause, including hot flushes. For healthy women, hormone replacement therapy has traditionally been used to alleviate symptoms, but it is associated with an increased risk of relapse in women with estrogen-sensitive breast cancers.
Hervik and her supervisor, Dr. Odd Mjaland, randomized 59 breast cancer patients to receive either 10 weeks of traditional Chinese acupuncture or sham acupuncture.
The findings were reported at the sixth European Breast Cancer Conference in Berlin.