NEW YORK, April 22 (UPI) -- Acupuncture may help treat hot flashes, heart palpitations and anxiety in some prostate cancer patients receiving hormone treatment, U.S. researchers say.
Lead author Dr. Hani Ashamalla, a radiation oncologist at New York Methodist Hospital, and colleagues at the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York say treating men with metastatic prostate cancer involves surgery or hormone therapy to reduce testosterone levels.
Eliminating testosterone has been shown to keep the cancer in check by starving the cancer of hormones it needs to grow and spread. However, these hormone treatments can cause hot flashes similar to those women experience during menopause.
The main way to combat hot flashes is to take antidepressants, but these drugs can cause their own side effects -- including nausea, dry mouth, sleeplessness, altered appetite and sexual changes, Ashamalla says.
The researchers evaluated 14 men experiencing hot flashes due to hormone therapy for prostate cancer. Entering the study, the men were given a hot flash score to score their discomfort -- the initial mean was 28.3.
Participants received acupuncture twice a week for 30 minutes at a time for four weeks.
After two weeks of acupuncture, the scores dropped to 10.3, at six weeks the score dropped to 7.5, and after eight months the score was 7.
The study is published in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology.