Natural breast cancer remedies
By Sharon Labi
Up to 75 per cent of cancer patients are turning to complementary therapiesFor 75 per cent of breast cancer patients, their use of complementary treatments such as vitamin supplements, meditation and music therapy is a closely guarded secret. Not from family and friends, but from their doctors. They fear being dismissed or ridiculed because many cancer specialists are sceptical about the benefits of complementary medicine. But such treatments could be why cancer sufferers are tolerating toxic chemotherapy better than ever.
A sense of controlA recent survey of Australian women with breast cancer found 87 per cent had used complementary therapies, with many using four or more, according to the National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre. However, only one in four tell their doctor.
The centre says complementary medicine can "empower" women and give them a greater sense of control over their cancer, but it remains cautious. "Most alternate therapies have not been assessed for efficacy or safety. Some have been found to be harmful or ineffective," it says.
That's why the National Breast Cancer Foundation is funding two studies into the interaction between complementary medicine and conventional treatment. Professor Stephen Clarke, an oncologist from the Sydney Cancer Centre, is leading one of the studies, into the use of medical Qigong, an ancient Chinese practice of physical activity and meditation to harmonise mind, body and spirit. The study will examine fatigue, cognitive function, satisfaction with sexual life and inflammation. In a previous study, cancer patients doing Qigong had lower levels of an inflammatory biomarker in the blood.
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