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Home > Understanding Breast Cancer > Breast Cancer Research > Table 60: Acupuncture for menopausal symptoms

  


Table 60: Acupuncture for menopausal symptoms

 

This summary table contains detailed information about research studies. Summary tables offer an informative look at the science behind many breast cancer guidelines and recommendations. However, they should be viewed with some caution. In order to read and interpret research tables successfully, it is important to understand some key concepts. Learn how to read a research table.

Introduction: Although menopausal hormone therapy (postmenopausal hormone use) containing estrogen and progestin may ease menopausal symptoms, long-term use increases the risk of breast cancer (see Table 8) [1]. For this reason, many women seek other ways to reduce hot flashes and other symptoms.

Acupuncture is a technique that uses small needles to apply pressure to specific points on the body. A few, small randomized controlled trials have studied whether acupuncture may offer relief from hot flashes in both cancer-free women and breast cancer survivors.  In these trials, women were randomly assigned to get true acupuncture or sham (fake) acupuncture. With sham acupuncture, the needles are placed at non-acupuncture points on the body. To date, study findings are mixed. Some studies showed acupuncture reduced hot flashes more than the sham treatment, while others found no difference between the two.

Although most studies have compared true acupuncture to sham acupuncture, some have compared acupuncture to drug therapies. One small randomized controlled trial compared acupuncture to the antidepressant drug venlafaxine (Effexor) and found they offered similar relief of hot flashes [2].

Learn more about acupuncture.

Learn about the strengths and weaknesses of different types of studies.

Study selection criteria: Randomized controlled trials comparing true acupuncture with sham acupuncture with at least 50 participants and meta-analyses.

Table note: Relative risk above 1 indicates increased risk. Relative risk below 1 indicates decreased risk.

Study 

Study Population
(number of participants)
 

Treatment Duration 

True Acupuncture
 Reduced Hot Flashes
 More Than
 Sham Acupuncture?
 

Randomized controlled trials 

Vincent et al. [3]

103
cancer-free
women

5 weeks

No

de Luca et al. [4]

81
cancer-free
women

18 months

Yes

Deng et al. [5]

72
breast cancer survivors

4 weeks

No

Bokmand and Flyger [6]

60
breast cancer survivors

5 weeks

Yes

Hervik and Mjaland [7]

59
breast cancer survivors

10 weeks

Yes

Kim et al. [8]

54
cancer-free
women

7 weeks

No

Venzke et al. [9]

51
cancer-free
women

12 weeks

No

Meta-analyses 

Dodin et al. [10]

8 studies

Various

Yes


References  

  1. Rossouw JE, Anderson GL, Prentice RL, et al. for the Writing Group for the Women’s Health Initiative Investigators. Risks and benefits of estrogen plus progestin in healthy postmenopausal women: principal results From the Women's Health Initiative randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 288(3):321-33, 2002.
  2. Walker EM, Rodriguez AI, Kohn B, et al. Acupuncture versus venlafaxine for the management of vasomotor symptoms in patients with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer: a randomized controlled trial. J Clin Oncol. 28(4):634-40, 2010.
  3. Vincent A, Barton DL, Mandrekar JN, et al. Acupuncture for hot flashes: a randomized, sham-controlled clinical study. Menopause. 14(1):45-52, 2007.
  4. de Luca AC, da Fonseca AM, Lopes CM, Bagnoli VR, Soares JM, Baracat EC. Acupuncture-ameliorated menopausal symptoms: single-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial. Climacteric. 14(1):140-5, 2011.
  5. Deng G, Vickers A, Yeung S, et al. Randomized, controlled trial of acupuncture for the treatment of hot flashes in breast cancer patients. J Clin Oncol. 25(35):5584-90, 2007.
  6. Bokmand S, Flyger H. Acupuncture relieves menopausal discomfort in breast cancer patients: A prospective, double blinded, randomized study. Breast. 22(3):320-3, 2013.
  7. Hervik J, Mjåland O. Acupuncture for the treatment of hot flashes in breast cancer patients, a randomized, controlled trial. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 116(2):311-6, 2009.
  8. Kim DI, Jeong JC, Kim KH, et al. Acupuncture for hot flushes in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women: a randomised, sham-controlled trial. Acupunct Med. 29(4):249-56, 2011.
  9. Venzke L, Calvert JF Jr, Gilbertson B. A randomized trial of acupuncture for vasomotor symptoms in post-menopausal women. Complement Ther Med. 18(2):59-66, 2010.
  10. Dodin S, Blanchet C, Marc I, et al. Acupuncture for menopausal hot flushes. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 7:CD007410, 2013.

Updated 09/27/13