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Lost in translation – Acupuncture

By Timothy Cocks Lost in translation 03 Jan 2014

Both real and sham acupuncture treatments may help alleviate side effects of breast cancer drugs

From Medical News Today

“A new analysis has found that both real and sham acupuncture treatments may help alleviate side effects of drugs commonly used to treat breast cancer. Published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the findings may help clinicians improve care for cancer patients. The results also raise the question of whether sham acupuncture is truly inert or may, like real acupuncture, have beneficial effects.” (bold added)

I’m not sure that this is really the question raised… There might be a clue in that word “sham”

“Both groups experienced lessening of their symptoms, especially hot flashes, but there was little difference in benefits between the real acupuncture and the sham acupuncture. “It could be that there is no difference, or it could be that in this small trial we just didn’t have enough patients to detect a significant difference,” said Dr. Bao. Notably, no patients experienced any significant side effects from either type of acupuncture treatment. “This is important because other treatments for symptoms often do have side effects, so showing that this treatment works without side effects could be a big improvement in the treatment of cancer survivors,” explained Dr. Bao.”

What ‘treatment’ was shown to work in this trial?  There seems to be a tenacious refusal to accept the actual findings of this study.

Carl Sagan’s warning comes to mind.

– Tim Cocks


Lost in Translation is a section where we examine hyperbole  used in mainstream media as a means to gain web views. Send any examples to


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