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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Acupuncture for Drug-Induced Joint Pain - Aromatase Inhibitors & Breast Cancer

Acupuncture may help treat some of the common side effects of hormonal drugs called aromatase inhibitors.


Aromatase inhibitors, such as anastrozole (Arimidex), exemestane (Aromasin) and letrozole (Femara), are used to treat hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer in postmenopausal women. The drugs lower blood levels of estrogen, a hormone that stimulates the growth of these cancer cells. Although aromatase inhibitors are considered effective for early-stage cancer, nearly half of people taking them experience pain and stiffness in the joints and muscles.


The researchers studied 43 women with breast cancer who reported joint pain associated with aromatase inhibitors. The participants were randomly assigned to either true acupuncture or sham acupuncture twice a week for six weeks. During the sham acupuncture, a superficial needle was inserted into non-acupoints. All of the participants continued taking aromatase inhibitors.


At the beginning of the study and three and six weeks after treatment, pain was assessed using the Brief Pain Inventory-Short Form (BPI-SF), Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) and the Modified Score for the Assessment of Chronic Rheumatoid Affections of the Hands (M-SACRAH).


According to the results, published in theJournal of Clinical Oncology, true acupuncture significantly improved joint pain and stiffness after six weeks. In addition, 20 percent of the patients who reported taking pain-relieving medications no longer needed them after acupuncture treatment. No significant improvements were reported in the sham group.


The authors concluded that "acupuncture is an effective and well-tolerated strategy for managing this common treatment-related side effect."


Scientific evidence supports the use of acupuncture for several other indications, including osteoarthritis, chronic pain, post-operative pain, dental procedures, endoscopy-related pain, fibromyalgia and several types of nausea and vomiting.


References:

  1. Crew KD, Capodice JL, Greenlee H, et al. Randomized, blinded, sham-controlled trial of acupuncture for the management of aromatase inhibitor-associated joint symptoms in women with early-stage breast cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2010 Mar 1;28(7):1154-60.

Yours in health,

Ian Koo, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
"The care you want, the health you need"

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Importance of Quality Supplements - Unsafe Fish Oils in the News!

My patients know the importance of quality supplements and it's something I've talked about. You need to know that the supplements you're buying have the concentrations that they say they have on the bottle. Some studies have shown that you may not be getting what's on the label. You should know if the supplements you're taking have been made with good manufacturing practices (GMP) and have been tested for quality and for impurities.

In the case of a commonly used supplement like fish oils, one needs to know that there is zero to low levels of heavy metals (ie. mercury), polychlorinated biphenyl compounds (PCBs) and other impurities. Here at the clinic, we did not used to sell supplements. But with increasing demand from our patients, we now carry certain reputable brands that have been vetted for their good manufacturing practices and quality. As for fish oils which is now making the news, I have personally requested for the certificate of analysis which shows third party testing on the supplements we carry. Our patients can be confident of this and next time you're in, feel free to ask to see a copy of this report.

If you caught the news last night on the CBC, you would have heard about PCBs being found in a number of fish oil supplements. PCBs are known carcinogens and a lawsuit is underway naming certain companies and pharmacies in the United States.

Yours in health,

Ian Koo, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
"The care you want, the health you need"

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Humour and Health - Medical Clowns....for Real

I wrote about this 'phenomenon' in a blog back in 2008: Laughter as therapeutic medicine! There was a hospital down in Mexico that was implementing laughter therapy and was seeing tremendous results. Unfortunately that clip of the work they were doing is no longer available.

In any case, I'm delighted to see that Toronto will be host to a medical clown conference. Who knew it was such big business? See The Star's article for more info. It's great that laughter therapy/medicine has made its way to Sick Kids. I would like to see it implemented in palliative care settings as well as seniors homes and oncology wards. This would be money well spent.

Ask yourself this, are you having fun in life? Are you enjoying life? You'd be surprised how many people respond 'no' or 'not sure'. Usually, I just pause and repeat "So you're NOT SURE if you're enjoying life?"

[SILENCE]

It's like a light bulb turning on. Some patients make changes and others will rationalize or make excuses. The truth is, if you want to see change in your life, you NEED to make a concerted effort to change this status quo. Whether your goal is to lose weight or to be happier, it takes effort. Sometimes it takes a lot of planning and other times you may require the help of a coach or third party than can be objective and truthful with you.

I leave you with this quote from the Bible "A cheerful heart is good medicine."

Whether you're religious or not, I think we can all agree that's some good advice!

Yours in health,

Ian Koo, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
"The care you want, the health you need"

Monday, March 1, 2010

Prescription Drug Abuse & Addiction - A report from the US National Institutes of Health

This is a great article from the U.S National Institutes of Health and it describes the most commonly abused medications and how they can affect you. I have seen patients who have become dependent and I am always reminded by the patients I observed & the stories I heard while preceptoring with a rheumatologist during my training days.

You can access this article here.

Yours in health,

Ian Koo, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
"The care you want, the health you need"