Acupuncture Reduces Severity of Hot Flashes in Breast Cancer: A Randomized Single-Blind Trial

Holist Nurs Pract. 2023 Nov-Dec;37(6):330-336. doi: 10.1097/HNP.0000000000000612.


This study evaluated the effectiveness of traditional Chinese medicine-based therapeutic acupuncture (TA) in reducing the severity of hot flashes (HFs) in breast cancer patients and compared the effectiveness of TA to "sham" placebo acupuncture (SA). Subjects experiencing more than 10 episodes of HF/week were randomly assigned to TA or SA. The response was assessed by the Menopause-specific Quality of Life (MenQoL) scale, scoring the subject's perception of the severity of HFs. HFs were scored at baseline, after treatment, and 1-month follow-up. A total of 54 subjects enrolled (28 TA and 26 SA). Seven women withdrew from the study. A hot flash diary documented the number of HFs a subject experienced. Analysis included 47 subjects (27 TA and 20 SA). A statistically significant response in HF scores was noted in the TA group compared with the SA group (P = .0064.) On average HF scores dropped by 1.89 with TA, and only 0.16 with SA. At follow-up, TA subjects had a sustained response. TA is effective in reducing the intensity and severity of HF. With SA, no relative response/change in HF scores was noted. Larger studies and longer follow-up to assess durability of response to TA are needed.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms* / complications
  • Breast Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Female
  • Hot Flashes / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Menopause
  • Quality of Life
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Treatment Outcome