A recent meta-analysis done of dozens of studies of traditional Chinese medicine and other non-pharmacological interventions such as acupuncture and therapeutic massage, published in the journal Oncotarget, states that these approaches help alleviate anxiety, depression, fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, insomnia and pain in Chinese cancer patients.
According to University of Illinois animal sciences and pathology professor emeritus Keith Kelley, an author of the study, “The meta-analysis confirmed that traditional Chinese medicine enhanced global quality of life for Chinese cancer patients.
Dr. Qiang (Quentin) Liu, a U. of I. medical scholar from Dalian Medical University in China who led the study with his colleagues Weiwei Tao and Xi Luo said, “We think this is the most comprehensive study of traditional Chinese medicine psycho-behavioral interventions and the quality of life of cancer patients published to date. Our findings will promote more investigations into how the body and mind are connected during disease development, and will facilitate better cancer treatments.”
According to the report, other interventions not associated with traditional Chinese medicine, including cognitive behavioural therapy, stress management and physical training were found to improve quality of life in Chinese cancer patients.
All of the research focused on non-pharmacological interventions involving adult Chinese cancer patients in China and after weeding out duplicate studies, those with nonstandard measures and those that failed to include control subjects or large enough sample sizes, focused on 67 studies, with 16 of them focused on traditional Chinese medicine.
The total number of cancer patients included in the analysis was 6,806.
“Traditional Chinese medicine has been practiced for 2,500 years in China,” Kelley said. “But what is the scientific evidence that it improves quality of life in cancer patients? This paper establishes that it does. Unfortunately, we were not able to determine what specific components of traditional Chinese medicine are the most effective.”
Unfortunately there were not sufficient studies on tai chi and qigong within the 16 on which the research was concentrated, so researchers could not come to meaningful conclusions about the specific effects of those interventions.
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