Is Complementary Medicine Good for Cancer Survival?
Cancer survivors are more likely to use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for general disease prevention, to boost immunity, and for pain, according to a study published in the March issue of the Journal of Cancer Survivors. The findings raise important questions such as, Is complementary medicine good for cancer survival? Or instead, are patients that choose to go to chiropractors, for example, also simply more likely to eat right, sleep well, and exercise, perhaps ultimately beating their cancers because of these other things they do well?
The research was based on the 2007 National Health Interview Survey of 23,393 participants, that included 1,471 cancer survivors. The study found that cancer survivors were often using CAM on the advice of their regular physician, and these patients were more likely to tell their physician about their CAM use. However, the majority of patients that use CAM still do not inform their regular physician, according to the research.
Prior studies have confirmed that chiropractic continues to be the most widely used form of CAM in America, that about 85% of chiropractic patients are satisfied with the care that they receive, and that there are important short- and long-term improvements in both acute and chronic back pain with chiropractic use. Typically prayer, vitamins and chiropractic are the other most commonly used forms of CAM in America, ahead of massage, accupuncture, naturopathy, and all other complementary therapies.
Studies also suggest that chiropractic treatments—termed adjustments—have important physiological effects such as lowering blood pressure, reducing muscle spasms, and boosting immunity, when compared with massage or control procedures.
Scientists do not know how chiropractic works, although there is evidence it improves joint, muscle and nerve function. In addition to growing research support for its use for headache and acute and chronic neck and back pain, more recent evidence suggests that so-called “maintenance care”may help prevent back pain and disability.
Numerous studies suggest that chiropractors encourage their patients to increase activity levels, modify their diet and lose weight in addition to supporting other objectives endorsed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. There is also some evidence that chiropractic patients tend to be active and exercise more than patients attending only a medical physician. At least two studies indicate that chiropractic patients are less likely to undergo hospitalization than non-chiropractor treated patients.
What are the benefits of CAM? While scientists are only now beginning to answer this question, the whole person focus of chiropractic is looking better and better.
Rob Leach, DC, MS, FICC, CHES
The report on cancer survivors and CAM use may be found at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20924711
Highest reported provider based CAM use is chiropractic: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21317523
For a review article that documents numerous studies demonstrating patient satisfaction after chiropractic: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16523145
For recent research regarding temporary boost in immunity (i.e., initial and 2-hour increase in interleukin-2 after thoracic adjustment that causes cavitation or “popping” as opposed to a control manipulation that did not cause cavitation, or drawing blood without a sham procedure): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20825650
Worker’s compensation disability is more likely one year after treatment by a physical therapist or medical doctor, than a year after treatment by a chiropractor: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21407100
Chiropractors give advice regarding nutrition and exercise, although perhaps not as often as medical doctors: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20732577
Hospitalization rates are lower among patients attending CAM-oriented PCPs including chiropractors: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17509435