Researchers from the University of Minnesota and Medical College of Wisconsin have found that acupuncture has the ability to reduce bone tumor growth. It was also shown to reduce lung cancer metastasis. The type of cancer researched was osteosarcoma which is the most common form of bone cancer. It more commonly affects the long bones. Other research in the past had shown that acupuncture can help in the development of new blood vessels and the researchers wanted to test the hypothesis that acupuncture may then be able to alter tumor vasculature.
The very common acupuncture point Stomach 36, called zusanli in Chinese, has been used in a number of other research trials and again was used in this bone tumor research. The meaning of the Chinese name of the acupuncture point translates as three leg mile. The name came about because traditionally the acupuncture when stimulated at this point helped a person walk an extra three miles at the end of the day after they had walked all day and were already tired and exhausted. This effect demonstrated the strengthening effects of the acupuncture point and is in fact used for a number of debilitate conditions. For instance, Stomach 36 is used for extreme tiredness as seen in chronic fatigue and for post flu recovery. It is also used for stroke rehabilitation as it can improve the tone of leg muscles. Stomach 36 is also used for improving the strength and endurance of athletes.
In reference to tumor treatment, researchers found that the acupuncture works better if the treatment is started as early as possible as soon as tumor development is observed. Results were also dependent upon the frequency of treatment.
There is also promise for breast cancer as the researchers found that acupuncture also reduced breast cancer related mammary tumor flow.
In China there have been numerous studies verifying the efficacy of Chinese herbal medicine in the treatment of cancer and there also been studies where acupuncture was combined with Chinese herbal medicine. One Chinese herb, gu sui bu, has been used in modern China for bone cancer.
The US researchers concluded that Stomach 36 inhibits cancer cell division and they found no studies that could indicate that acupuncture could increase tumor growth. It is therefore a safe treatment without side effects.
In New Zealand it is currently illegal for an acupuncturist to claim that they can treat cancer but they may use acupuncture to help assist discomforting symptoms associated with cancer. David Craddock, who is an Auckland based member of Acupuncture NZ has had extensive experience in helping assist discomforting symptoms associated with cancer.