Breast cancer survivors using acupressure significantly reduced
fatigue compared to women who continued receiving normal care from
their doctors, researchers found.
"This is a low-cost, low-risk and easy to use intervention to help
with fatigue in many women who are breast cancer survivors," said
lead author Suzanna Zick, of the University of Michigan.
She and her colleagues point out in JAMA Oncology that only limited
treatments are available to combat the fatigue that is common among
breast cancer survivors.
Acupressure is similar to acupuncture in that it target specific
points on the body - but no needles are involved. Instead, pressure
is applied to those points with fingers, thumbs or devices.
For the new study, the researchers randomly assigned 288 breast
cancer survivors to one of three groups. One group was told to
continue their usual care. A second group received acupressure that
targets relaxation points. The final group received stimulating
acupressure, intended to increase energy.
The women were taught to administer their own acupressure at the
beginning of the study. They were instructed to apply pressure in a
circular motion for 3 minutes each day, for six weeks.
The women's acupressure techniques were also evaluated at the start
of the study, three weeks later and at the end of the study.
On a scale of one to 10, with higher scores indicating greater
fatigue, the women started the study with an average score of about
By the end of the six weeks, about 66 percent of women in the
relaxing acupressure group and about 61 percent of those in the
stimulating group had fatigue scores of less than 4 - in the range
considered normal. That was true for only about 31 percent of women
in the usual care group.
After another four weeks, 56 percent of the relaxation acupressure
group and 61 percent of women in the stimulating group still had
normal fatigue scores, compared to about 30 percent in the
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While neither of the two acupressure techniques outperformed the
other in terms of fatigue, the relaxing method improved sleep
quality and quality of life more than the stimulating method.
The researchers say their results are consistent with earlier and
smaller trials that tested acupressure as a treatment for fatigue.
They caution that about 90 percent of the participants were white.
Also, about 12 percent of women stopped acupressure, because they
found it too time consuming.
Zick told Reuters Health that two participants experience bruising
from the acupressure, and one of those women dropped out of the
She said her team hopes to publish a paper looking at how the brain
responds to acupressure. They also want to see if applying pressure
for only a minute leads to similar - and less time consuming -
They are also working on an app that people can use to teach
themselves the techniques.
"Hopefully it will be something thatís easily accessible to use in
the future," she said.
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/29nKp6m JAMA Oncology, online July 7, 2016.
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