Acupuncture alleviates Tamoxifen-induced Hot Flushes

British researchers have shown that acupuncture offers an effective way to manage the hot flushes and night sweats experienced by women taking tamoxifen for breast cancer.

Fifty patients with early breast cancer and who were taking tamoxifen, were given eight weekly, individualised traditional acupuncture treatments at an NHS cancer treatment centre in southern England. All the women were aged 35 or over, and had been taking tamoxifen for at least six months. By the end of treatment, the average frequency of hot flushes had been reduced by 49.8% compared with baseline. At 4 and 18 weeks after acupuncture ended, trends suggested longer term benefits aswell. The women also showed significant improvements in other areas of physical and emotional well-being.

The researchers comment that these results compare well with other studies using acupuncture to manage these symptoms, as well as research on non-hormonal pharmaceutical treatments. Few side-effects were reported, and further research is warranted into this approach, which offers breast cancer survivors choice in managing a chronic condition.

(Using Traditional Acupuncture for Breast Cancer-Related Hot Flashes and Night Sweats. Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine (Liebert), Oct 2010.)

Additionally, Norwegian researchers have followed up women taking similar medication and assessed them two years after they originally had acupuncture treatment for hot flushes: 41 women had previously received acupuncture, and 41 had received sham acupuncture as a control, given as 15 treatments over ten weeks.

Whilst women previously treated with sham acupuncture, reported that hot flushes were still a problem, those who had traditional Chinese acupuncture found flushes less problematic and generally had a more positive outlook on life.

(Quality of Life of Breast Cancer Patients Medicated with Anti-Estrogens, Two Years after Acupuncture Treatment. Int Journal of Womens Health. Sept 2010.)