Meta-Analysis Reveals TCM’s Benefit To Cancer Patients

A systematic review of nearly 24,000 studies has found that traditional Chinese medicine can benefit cancer patients.

AsianScientist (Nov. 24, 2015) – A meta-analysis of dozens of studies has found that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and other non-pharmacological interventions, such as acupuncture and therapeutic massage, had benefits such as reduced gastrointestinal disruptions after surgery and lessened fatigue in cancer patients.

The review, reported in Oncotarget, found that TCM-related approaches aimed at improving patients’ quality of life, on the whole, help to alleviate depression, fatigue, pain, anxiety, insomnia and gastrointestinal problems in Chinese cancer patients.

“The meta-analysis confirmed that traditional Chinese medicine enhanced global quality of life for Chinese cancer patients,” said University of Illinois animal sciences and pathology Professor Emeritus Keith Kelley, an author of the study.

The authors believe the meta-analysis to be the most comprehensive study published to date of traditional Chinese medicine psycho-behavioral interventions and cancer patient quality of life.

“Our findings will promote more investigations into how the body and mind are connected during disease development, and will facilitate better cancer treatments,” said Dr. Qiang (Quentin) Liu, of Dalian Medical University in China.

Other interventions not associated with traditional Chinese medicine, including stress management, cognitive behavioral therapy and physical training, also were found to improve quality of life in Chinese cancer patients, the researchers report.

The team started with 6,500 studies published in journals in China and 23,000 studies from Western journals. All of the research focused on non-pharmacological interventions involving adult Chinese cancer patients in China. After eliminating duplicate studies, those with non-standard measures and those that failed to include control subjects or large enough sample sizes, the team ended up with a total of 67 studies, with 16 of them focused on traditional Chinese medicine.

The latter 16 studies did not include enough studies of tai chi and qigong to allow the researchers to come to meaningful conclusions about the specific effects of those interventions, Kelley said. The total number of cancer patients included in the analysis was 6,806.

“We were surprised by the limited number of papers on the use of traditional Chinese medicine psycho-behavioral interventions for Chinese cancer patients that qualified for entry into this meta-analysis, particularly since the TCMs originated and are mostly practiced in China,” the researchers wrote.

“Traditional Chinese medicine has been practiced for 2,500 years in China,” Kelley said. “But what is the scientific evidence that it improves quality of life in cancer patients? This paper establishes that it does. Unfortunately, we were not able to determine what specific components of traditional Chinese medicine are the most effective.”

Kelley said he hopes the evidence that traditional Chinese medicine and other non-pharmacological interventions benefit cancer patients will prompt new interest in research aimed at understanding the physiological mechanisms at play.

The article can be found at: Tao et al. (2015) Practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine for Psycho-behavioral Intervention Improves Quality of Life in Cancer Patients: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.


Source: The University of Illinois.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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