Monday, Aug, 4 2008 (Health Day News) – As many as 61% of cancer patients use complementary therapies such as prayer, relaxation, meditation and massage, researchers from the American Cancer Society report. (Sept 2008) issue. This new study echoes findings of other, smaller studies that also found that many cancer patients use complementary treatments. The kinds of methods used were influenced by sex, race, age, education, type of cancer and how far the disease has spread.

“Many complementary methods are extremely popular among cancer survivors, who are spending a lot  of their time, money and attention on them” said study co-author Dr. Ted Gansler, the society’s director of medical content. “For this reason, it is import to determine which are helpful, not only for shrinking tumors and extending survival, but also for relieving symptoms and improving quality of life.

For the study, published in the Sept. 1 issue of Cancer, Gansler’s team collected data on 4,139 caner survivors who participated in the American Cancer Society’s Study of Cancer Survivors-I. The people were interviewed 10 to 24 months after diagnosis. The use of some complementary methods by cancer survivors is very common, the study found. For example, 61.4 percent used prayer; 44.3 percent used relaxation techniques; 42.4 percent used faith/spiritual healing; 40.1 percent used nutritional supplements such as vitamins; 15 percent used meditation; 11.3 percent used religious counseling; 11.2 percent used massage; and 9.7 percent participated in support groups.

But other complementary methods aren’t as common, the researchers found. Only 0.4 percent of surveyed participant used hypnosis; 1 percent used biofeedback therapy; and 1.2 percent used acupuncture. All types of complementary methods were more popular among women, Gansler said. 59% of women and 43% of men turned to methods such as aromatherapy. art therapy. support groups, hypnosis, imagery/visualization, meditation and relaxation. And methods such as tar chi and yoga were by 10.1 % of women, compared with 1.9 percent of men. Massage was used by 16.6 % of women, by only 3.9 percent of men, the study found.

“In general, younger, more educated and more affluent cancer survivors were more likely to used complementary methods.” Gansler said.

“This is not only because ovarian cancer is obviously limited to women and breast cancer is extremely rare among men. For example, all types of complementary methods were used more often by breast and ovarian cancer survivors than by uterine cancer survivors – also women, of course.” he said.

It’s clear why complementary methods have become much more common during the past few years, but there is still a lot of uncertainty about the effectiveness of many complementary methods.” he added.

Alternative medicine expert Dr. Harold Burstein, an instructor in the Department of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, said, “This study, like many before it, confirms that cancer patients actively pursue a variety of alternative and complementary therapies, usually in conjunction with standard approaches to cancer treatment.” The motivations for such practices are worth exploring, Burstein said. “it is not known, but it is not thought that these have an impact on cancer related outcomes, though many patients report deriving comfort, solace or symptom relief with such practices,” he said.

Complementary (Mind-Body) medicine is on of the core foundational teaching and techniques of 7th Dimension publications: Self-Healing: Powerful Techniques, confirming once more out cutting edge, 21 century activities.

-By Dr. Ranjie Singh