Patients Say Acupuncture Helps Nausea . . . But Does it Really?

Colorectal Cancer News in a Nutshell

Summer’s over. The black squirrels in the front yard are scurrying around hunting acorns and my inbox is full of neat nuggets of colorectal cancer news — and I don’t want to leave them buried all winter.

So here they are in brief.  You can check the links for more details.

Mixed Results Using Acupuncture for Radiation Nausea

The good news is that almost all patients felt they had less nausea after either real or sham acupuncture to manage nausea and vomiting during radiation therapy.  Nine out of ten wanted more treatments.

The sham procedure used non-penetrating needles just pressed against the skin, but neither the patients who got real acupuncture or those who got sham treatments knew which they received.

Ninety-five percent in the real acupuncture group and 96 percent in the sham acupuncture group believed that the treatment had been effective against nausea.  However, 70 percent of the real group and 62 percent of the sham group did experience nausea — for an average of 10 days for real treatments and 9 days for sham.

In addition, 25 percent of the real group and 28 percent of the sham group vomited.

So measured objectively, there was still significant nausea and whether or not acupuncture was “real” or just pretend, it made no measurable difference.

Dr. Anna Enblom from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm said,

The beneficial effects seem not to come from the traditional acupuncture method, but probably from the patients’ positive expectations and the extra care that the treatment entails.

Read more in articles by Dr. Enblom and her colleagues in Annals of Oncology and earlier this year in PLoS ONE where acupuncture, both real and sham was compared to standard nausea care.  Dr. Enblom also was featured in a news release from the Karolinska Institute.

Why Research on Fruits and Veggies and Colorectal Cancer Risk is Confusing

More fruits?  More veggies? Less colon cancer? Less rectal cancer?

Doesn’t make a difference.  Makes a big difference.

Are you confused when you read media stories based on new research about the impact of diet on colon and rectal cancer?

It may be that different fruits and vegetables have different effects depending on where cancer develops — in the proximal colon (near the top), the distal colon (near the rectum), or the rectum itself.

The research team from the Western Australian Bowel Health Study compared fruit and vegetable intact between people who had been diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer and a similar group of cancer-free individuals. They specifically looked at where the cancer was in the colorectal tract.

While total intake of fruits and vegetables and total intake of vegetables did reduce distal cancer, neither had any impact on proximal or rectal cancer. Brassica vegetables like broccoli and cabbage reduced proximal colon cancer risk, while risk for distal cancer was significantly reduced by eating dark yellow vegetables and apples.

Rectal cancer risk was increased by drinking fruit juice.

The discovery of differences should impact future diet studies for reducing colorectal cancer risk. Epidemiologist and study author Professor Lin Fritschi, PhD explained.

Fruits and vegetables have been examined extensively in nutritional research in relation to CRC, however, their protective effect has been subject to debate, possibly because of different effects on different subsites of the large bowel.

It may be that some of the confusion about the relationship between diet and cancer risk is due to the fact that previous studies did not take site of the CRC into account. The replication of these findings in large prospective studies may help determine whether a higher intake of vegetables is a means for reducing the risk of distal CRC.

The study was reported in the October Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

The bottom line for people who want to reduce their risk of colon and rectal cancer is that eating fruit and vegetables does help prevent cancer in some parts of the colon and rectum, but doesn’t guarantee that cancer won’t occur.  Getting fruit from juice may not be the best choice because that does increase rectal cancer risk.

Even a Little More Exercise Helps

Although recommendations are for 150 minutes of exercise a week or 30 minutes a day to reduce risk of dying from cardiovascular disease or cancer, even less activity can increase life expectancy.

Following over 415,000 people in Taiwan over an average of 9 years, researchers found that even 15 minutes a day (92 minutes a week) of physical activity increased life expectancy three years compared to those people who had no exercise at all. The no exercise group had a 17% increased risk of dying compared to the low-exercise group.

After an initial 15 minutes every day (low-volume exercise) every additional 15 minutes of daily exercise decreased risk of dying from any cause by 4% and dying from cancer by1%.

Dr Chi Pang Wen MD from the National Health Research Institutes in Zhunan, Taiwan reported study results in the October 1, 2011 issue of The Lancet.





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