Researchers at the University of Manchester, U.S, recruited 325 women who had moderate to severe cancer-related fatigue. All the women had undergone chemotherapy for breast cancer at some point in the last five years, and most had felt chronically tired for 12 months or more.
The volunteers were divided into two groups – one group were required to attend six weekly acupuncture sessions and the other only received educational materials to help them manage in day-to-day life.
All women were asked to rate their energy levels before and after the six weeks on a scale of 1-20. Those who received acupuncture treatment reported a four point reduction on the scale after six weeks, whereas those who did not have acupuncture reported less than one point of reduction.
According to cancer expert Carol Enderlin, fatigue is the common symptom experienced by recovering cancer patients. It is thought to be a symptom of a number of problems associated with cancer and cancer treatment, including psychological stress, chronic pain and anaemia.
Experts conclude that the acupuncture could make a ‘mild improvement’ to cancer-related fatigue. Although it may not be enough to get a person confined to bed up and walking around, it could give mildly fatigued patients a small boost of energy to help them do more exercise.
Dr. Enderlin also stresses that patients who have been treated for cancer should ensure they’re not at risk of bleeding or infection before undergoing acupuncture for treating fatigue.
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