According to the National Cancer Institute, one in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. For these women, conventional medical treatment involves chemotherapy and five years of hormone therapy. With such a long course of treatment, side effects of hormone therapy such as vasomotor symptoms - hot flashes and night sweats - can become a major cause of decreased quality of life, and even discontinuation of treatment. Venlafaxine (Effexor) has been the drug therapy of choice to manage these common and debilitating side effects associated with breast cancer treatment. Venlafixine, however, comes with its own set of side-effects: dry mouth, decreased appetite, nausea and constipation.
Since acupuncture has been shown to effectively reduce hot flashes in menopausal women, Dr. Walker and her research team decided to test the use of acupuncture to combat vasomotor symptoms in breast cancer patients as an alternative to drug therapy.