The study involved 277 people with cancer, all of whom were receiving radiotherapy of the abdomen or pelvic region. Of those patients, 215 were randomly assigned to treatment with traditional acupuncture or simulated acupuncture (in which needles were pressed against the skin rather than inserted at specific acupuncture points).
Compared to the 62 study participants who only received standard care, members of both acupuncture groups were significantly less likely to experience nausea or vomiting after their radiation therapy. What's more, no differences in nausea were observed between the two acupuncture groups.
"The beneficial effects seem not to come from the traditional acupuncture method, but probably from the patients' positive expectations and the extra care that the treatment entails," notes study author Anna Enblom.