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New Study Says Acupuncture Not Effective for Hot Flashes

As women going through menopause know, hot flashes are one of the most common – and bothersome – symptoms of menopause.  Hot flashes can be treated by certain medications, as well as estrogen replacement therapy. For those who prefer more natural therapies, acupuncture has been seen as another option.  But in a new study, acupuncture proved no better than a placebo for improving hot flashes.

Studying acupuncture’s effectiveness

The New York Times’ wellness blog reports that researchers studied 327 menopausal women over 40 who had seven or more hot flashes a day.  Over an eight-week period, they gave half the women standardized Chinese medicine acupuncture procedures. In acupuncture, a practitioner inserts extremely thin needles through the skin at precise strategic points.  The other half of the study participants received a fake technique designed to give the physical and visual perception of acupuncture without penetrating the skin.  Throughout the study, the participants recorded the frequency and intensity of their hot flashes in a diary.

At the end of the study, researchers observed some improvement in symptoms for both groups, but no difference between the groups with regard to the severity or frequency of hot flashes.  In addition, there was no difference with respect to secondary outcomes for menopause-specific quality of life, anxiety or depression.  Researchers therefore concluded that, while acupuncture may be effective for other conditions, it is not effective at treating hot flashes.

Health concerns after menopause

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health reports that certain health concerns increase for women following menopause.  Menopause can cause a loss of bone density, a condition known as osteoporosis.  When bones weaken, they can break more easily;  thus, post-menopausal women may be at greater risk for broken bones.  Menopause also increases a woman’s risk of cardiovascular disease, which can include heart attacks and strokes.

Further, according to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, women who experience menopause after age 55 have an increased risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancers.  This is believed to be because a woman who undergoes later menopause is exposed to more estrogen over the course of her life.  Komen points to research indicating that higher exposure to estrogen over a lifetime is related to breast cancer risk. The American Cancer Society notes that estrogen’s relationship to increased breast cancer risk discourages many doctors from recommending hormone replacement therapy to treat menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes.

Failure to diagnose cancer

Despite the many health care options in Philadelphia, given the prevalence of cancer it is likely that some of the city’s residents will not be properly diagnosed.  If you are a woman who is going through or has finished menopause, you should know that your risk of certain types of cancers increases, particularly with the use of hormone replacement therapy.  If you have received a cancer diagnosis and fear it came later than it should have, contact the experienced failure-to-diagnose-cancer attorneys at Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C.  We can help you explore your rights and options for recovery.

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