Acupuncture and cancer
Acupuncture Stimulates Natural Killer Cells that Attack Cancer
October 5th, 2011
A unique new study by researchers at the Department of Medicine, University of California, strongly suggests that Acupuncture may stimulate the production of “natural killer” cells, called NK cells, that attack and kill cancer cells.
The study approach is unique because it examined earlier studies, and then applied current biological science to explain the findings.
First, the study surveyed an enormous body of earlier research that has already shown how Acupuncture is helpful in many different aspects of cancer treatment.
Research has demonstrated that Acupuncture reduces the incidence of chemotherapy-induced acute vomiting, for example. Other findings show acupuncture can manage some cancer-related pain. Promising evidence suggests that acupuncture relieves fatigue in cancer patients and survivors. Evidence is also accumulating that acupuncture alleviates cancer-related neurological issues, breathlessness, hot flashes and “dry mouth”.
“In sum,” say the researchers, “there are substantial empirical grounds to assume that clinicians could use acupuncture to help patients better tolerate conventional cancer therapies by reducing associated side-effects. Further, the evidence is very strong that acupuncture is an extremely safe therapy. In short, the research implies that acupuncture is a helpful, versatile and safe treatment modality for patients with cancer.”
Despite all these apparent benefits, the authors state, the conventional oncology community “has shown itself reluctant to integrate acupuncture and other complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) modalities into their treatment plans for patients with cancer.”
One reason has been a concern that symptomatic relief is due to “spontaneous remission” rather than the CAM intervention. Another is that the scientific community “lacks both the scientific evidence and biomedical understanding” to consider that CAM procedures would work.
However, this new study applied accepted cellular immunology and molecular biological theory to interpret and synthesize the evidence from earlier animal and human studies and the findings clearly suggest that Acupuncture can help.
Results indicate that clinicians should use acupuncture to promote NK cell activity to enhance anticancer immune function.
SOURCE: National Center for Biotechnical Information, from Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Volume 2011.