1 In 2 Men In Australia Seek Alternative Medicine When Diagnosed With Cancer
Health & Medicine
December 14, 2011
More than 50 percent of men diagnosed with cancer in Australia are turning to complementary and alternative medicine, according to a recent University of Adelaide study.
AsianScientist (Dec. 14, 2011) – More than 50 percent of men diagnosed with cancer in Australia are turning to complementary and alternative medicine to help find a cure, or to improve their health, according to new research from the University of Adelaide.
The study, published recently in the Annals of Oncology, is based on an Adelaide questionnaire of 400 men with various types of cancer, and was carried out by psychology graduate student Nadja Klafke.
Klafke’s findings provide evidence that the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is common and widespread in men with cancer, who modify their diet in conjunction with conventional treatment, as well as turn to meditation, yoga, and exercise.
“Many complementary therapies have the potential to help reduce common side-effects of cancer treatment and disease symptoms,” said Klafke.
“The popularity of CAM use in cancer sufferers presumably reflects the benefits – real or perceived – by those who use them,” she said.
According to Klafke, published data shows that acupuncture and acupressure may relieve chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, hypnosis and massage are beneficial for cancer-related pain, and meditation and relaxation techniques can relieve fatigue.
The study found that dietary supplements are the most common natural therapy used by men suffering from cancer. Prayer is the second most popular CAM therapy, and herbs and botanicals rank third, despite warnings by cancer clinicians that herbs such as Echinacea, St John’s wort, Ginseng, and Gingko biloba can react badly with prescribed medications.
Reasons for turning to alternative options include dissatisfaction with conventional medical treatments, or pressure from a spouse or family to try something different, the study found.
While this study focused on male cancer outpatients living in Adelaide, other studies around the world have demonstrated that culture plays a large part in determining which herbs and dietary supplements are favored.
Klafke says the findings show that oncologists are not aware that most male cancer patients use alternative treatments in conjunction with conventional medicine.
“It would definitely be worth clinicians having an open discussion with their patients about the efficacy and safety of complementary and alternative medicine. A better understanding of the role, reasons for use and benefits of CAM may lead to more holistic approaches to care,” she said.
Source: University of Adelaide.
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