Background: This study evaluates the effect of acupuncture on hot flashes and disturbed night sleep in patients treated for breast cancer. The effect of acupuncture was tested against a sham-acupuncture group and a no-treatment control group. Plasma estradiol was measured to rule out this as cause of effect. Side effects of the treatment were registered.
Methods: We randomized 94 women into the study: 31 had acupuncture, 29 had sham acupuncture and 34 had no treatment.
Findings: In the acupuncture group, 16 patients (52%) experienced a significant effect on hot flashes compared with seven patients (24%) in the sham group (p < 0.05). The effect came after the second acupuncture session and lasted for at least 12 weeks after last treatment. A statistically significant positive effect was seen on sleep in the acupuncture group compared with the sham-acupuncture and no-treatment groups. The effect was not correlated with increased levels of plasma estradiol. No side effects of acupuncture were registered.
Interpretation: We find that acupuncture significantly relieves hot flashes and sleep disturbances and is a good and safe treatment in women treated for breast cancer.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00425776.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.