Reflexology Can Benefit Cancer Patients

According to a study funded by the National Cancer Institute, reflexology -- in which a person's feet are massaged in order to stimulate other parts of the body -- can help cancer patients in treatment better perform daily tasks.

The study, conducted by Gwen Wyatt, a professor in the College of Nursing at Michigan State University, could be the first large-scale study to provide evidence to support reflexology as a possible complement to conventional cancer treatment.

Wyatt's study involved 385 women who were in the midst of chemotherapy or hormonal therapy for advanced-stage metastatic breast cancer. Wyatt randomly assigned the women to three groups:

  • Treatment by a certified reflexologist
  • A foot massage meant to be similar to a placebo
  • Standard medical treatment only, no foot massage

They were studied over a period of 11 weeks, and Wyatt concluded that the women in the first group-- those who received reflexology-- experienced substantially less shortness of breath and could more easily accomplish tasks like getting dressed, going to the store and climbing stairs, than women in the other two groups.

"It's always been assumed that it's a nice comfort measure, but to this point, we really have not, in a rigorous way, documented the benefits. This is the first step toward moving a complementary therapy from fringe care to mainstream care," wrote Wyatt.

Source: MSU
Photo: Pexels

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