Alternative therapies for breast cancer

Alternative therapies for breast cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women around the world. The good news is that due to research, detection, and treatment advances, 89 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer in Western countries are still alive five years after being diagnosed.

More women are turning to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to help them recover from breast cancer and cope with the side effects of traditional cancer treatments. According to a recent University of Michigan study, 57 percent of women recovering from breast cancer use CAM therapies. Other reports estimate this figure could be as high as 80 percent.

The most popular form of treatment is biological-based therapies, such as vitamins and supplements, followed by mind-body therapies such as listening to audiotapes or music and watching videos. Acupuncture and therapeutic touch are used much less frequently.

Another recent study conducted by a team of American and Italian researchers found that resveratrol, an ingredient found in red wine, can stop breast cancer growth. It does so by blocking the growth effects of estrogen.

This study is the first time researchers have shown that resveratrol can stop the growth of hormone-resistant breast cancer cells. This finding has important significance for treating breast cancer patients whose tumours eventually develop a resistance to hormonal therapy.

Research also points to a possible link between vitamin D and cancer.

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