Alert
Close

Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on Sept. 11. Volunteer today

HIGHLIGHTS

Open
AARP Staying Sharp: Keep Your Brain Healthy

AARP REALPAD

The tablet with free 24/7 customer support. Learn More

AARP VETERAN MEMBERSHIP

Military and Veterans Discount

CONTESTS AND SWEEPS

AARP’s Picture Your Retirement Sweepstakes

Enter the $50K Picture Your Retirement Sweepstakes. Ends 8/31/15. No purchase necessary. Enter for Official Rules.

KEEP BRAIN ACTIVE!

AARP Games - Play Now!

Webinars

Learn From the Experts

Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.

AARP BOOKS

Planning for Long-Term Care for Dummies

Get expert advice on planning for your own or a relative’s future care needs.

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.

 

Arthritis

Heart Disease

Diabetes

Most Popular

Viewed

You May Also
Like

Battling Cancer With Acupuncture

This centuries-old technique involving the insertion of small needles just below the skin's surface can help relieve side effects from cancer treatments.

When prescription medications aren’t enough to ease nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy drugs, specialists at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston now turn to an unconventional treatment: acupuncture.

Growing evidence suggests this centuries-old technique, which involves the insertion of small needles just below the surface of the skin, can help treat nausea and other common side effects of cancer drugs. In a 2008 study by researchers at Germany’s Saarland University, for example, 23 children undergoing chemotherapy who received acupuncture were significantly less likely to need anti-nausea medications.

First studied in the West for its ability to relieve acute and chronic pain, acupuncture is also being used to ease a condition called peripheral neuropathy, which results when nerves are damaged by toxic cancer drugs. Acupuncture also may help alleviate hot flashes, a common side effect of treatment for breast cancer.

But the most surprising benefit from acupuncture is relief from xerostomia, a condition that occurs when radiation damages or destroys salivary glands, causing extreme dryness of the mouth. A common side effect of treatment for head and neck cancer, xerostomia can make it difficult for patients to swallow or eat. Acupuncture can help.

“Although we don’t yet know exactly how it works, acupuncture appears to be able to restore salivary function in some patients, offering really significant relief,” says Barrie Cassileth, M.D., who directs the integrative cancer program at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

In a 2009 study at M.D. Anderson, 19 patients suffering from this common side effect who received acupuncture for four weeks reported significant relief from dry mouth and an overall improvement in physical well-being. A similar study conducted at University of Sao Paulo in Brazil also recorded significant increases saliva production among cancer patients given acupuncture treatments.

Not everyone responds to acupuncture, admits M. Kay Garcia, an acupuncturist who conducts research into the therapy at M.D. Anderson. “But what we find is that many of those who do benefit see a lot of improvement.” Garcia is convinced from her clinical experiences that acupuncture boosts the cancer-fighting potency of chemotherapy and radiation, even if there is limited evidence as yet.

Fortunately, acupuncture has few risks, except for occasional bruising where the needles are inserted and bleeding in patients prone to bleeding. Still, experts say it’s important to find a trained and experienced practitioner. A good place to start is the National Credentialling Center for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, which maintains a list of board-certified acupuncturists on its website at www.nccaom.org.

Peter Jaret is a freelance writer in Petaluma, Calif.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Advertisement

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Walgreens 1 discount membership aarp

Members can earn 50 points per $1 spent on select health & wellness products at Walgreens.

member benefit aarp hear usa

Members save 15% on easy listening devices and more at the HearUSA Hearing Shop.

Eye Med 4 Membership Benefit AARP Discount

Members save up to 60% on eye exams and 30% on glasses at Target Optical.

Membership Benefits Discounts Email Genius

Brain boost? Get AARP email for access to memory exercises & more that help you focus.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points

Advertisement