Study of the Day: Cancer Patients With Side Effects Might Find Relief

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According to a new study by the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center, an ancient form of touch therapy, Jin Shin Jyutsu, may assuage the side effects of cancer treatment.

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PROBLEM: Intensive cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, can often lead to nasty side effects. Complementary methods to reduce them -- including meditation and guided imagery -- are available, although experts frequently debate their efficacy.

METHODOLOGY: This study, led by Jennifer Bradley of the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center, included 159 patients currently undergoing cancer treatment. Before and after each Jin Shin Jyutsu session, participants were asked to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 their symptoms of nausea, pain, and stress. During each session, practitioners administered light touches on 52 energetic points referred to as "Safety Energy Locks" in addition to fingers, toes, and midpoints on the upper arm, the upper calf and lower leg. Each touch was performed according to specific, routine orders known as "flows." The study, however, allowed for slight variations in the duration and location of sessions as well as the time between appointments.

RESULTS: Bradley found that patients experienced significant improvement in their symptoms, even after just one session of Jin Shin Jyutsu. The average decreases recorded were three points for stress and two points for both nausea and pain.

CONCLUSION: Although touch therapy cannot directly address whatever form of cancer a patient might have, Jin Shin Jyutsu can at least provide relief from treatment side effects. As Bradley commented, "it is encouraging to note that Jin Shin Jyutsu made improvements in these areas without adding additional unwanted effects that so often occur with medication interventions."

IMPLICATION: With any luck, Bradley's study will spur research on other complementary methods that can help to reduce undesired symptoms.

SOURCE: A report of this study can be accessed through the University of Kentucky website.

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Madeleine Kruhly writes and produces for The Atlantic.

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