A new study published online in the journal Cancer suggests that any relief acupuncture brings may be the result of a placebo effect.
Researchers followed a group of 47 women being treated with aromatase inhibitors, a breast cancer medication that can cause menopause-like side effects (hot flashes, night sweats) as well as joint and muscle pain. Twenty-three of the women received eight weeks of acupuncture; the rest received eight weeks of something called "sham acupuncture," where needles are placed on the skin somewhat randomly — not at traditional acupuncture points — and then not actually inserted.
The result? All of the patients reported that their side effects had improved, especially the severity of their hot flashes.