Breast Cancer in women

Complementary approaches

Women discussed various complementary therapies, as well as dietary and lifestyle changes. Although many tried different complementary approaches at various times, for one woman complementary therapies were an ongoing interest.

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A few women had tried aromatherapy. One felt that, although it had helped her relax, it may not make a difference to cancer. Another described how it had been of benefit to her generally.

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Reflexology, yoga and meditation were also used by some women. One described how hypnotherapy helped her to deal with her hot flushes. Acupuncture has also been shown to affect the severity and frequency of hot flushes*. Another praised the homeopathic treatments she had tried at different stages of her illness.

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Herbal teas were popular with some women, several of whom had stopped drinking regular tea and coffee. One woman described how she benefited from both T'ai Chi and green tea. A British Indian woman described a herbal mixture recommended by relatives in India.

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Many women who had not used complementary therapies said they might consider using them if they were diagnosed with a recurrence or secondary cancer. One of these women also noted the importance of a positive attitude.

Several women said they doubted the effectiveness of complementary therapies and relied instead on evidence based medicine. Others were wary of the vested interests of companies and therapists.

Dietary changes were also important to many women. Some had made a few or no changes to their diet because it had always been healthy and balanced. Others reported eating more healthily since their diagnosis, and stressed the importance of fruit, vegetables and vitamins. A few women had made drastic dietary changes when they were first diagnosed but resuming more balanced diets later, weighing physical health with quality of life.

Several women said they had reduced their intake of meat and dairy products. Others had increased their consumption of organic foods and water. One woman pointed out that, although she would like to make dietary changes, she could not afford to do so.

Taking moderate exercise was an important change some women made after recovery. Several also talked about working less and taking time to relax.

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Healthtalk has a whole site on breast cancer in men, for more information see 'Complementary approaches for breast cancer in men'.

*The North American Menopause Society (NAMS). "Bothered by hot flashes? Acupuncture might be the answer, analysis suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 July 2014
 

Last reviewed May 2015.
Last updated May 2015.

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