What do CAM for cancer care and dietary supplements for arthritis have in common?

Both involve complementary therapies used in clinical practice, but they range from anecdotal experience to objects of current research studies.
Here is more reporting, this time from a Florida paper, on CAM therapies for help with cancer care:

But there are a growing number of people – including medical experts and survivors – who urge cancer victims to add the arsenal of non-traditional medical and spiritual therapies.
In fact, such methods – from acupuncture and yoga to herbal treatments and prayer – can go a long way toward treating the negative side effects of chemo, radiation, surgery and other traditional medical approaches.
The key is finding a balance between traditional and alternative forms, said multiple breast cancer survivor Bobbi de Cordova-Hanks.
“You have to be well-rounded,” said the founder of Bosom Buddies, a support network for breast cancer victims. “You have to take care of the spiritual side, the mental side and the physical side – all of that.”
The growing acceptance of holistic treatments prompted the National Cancer Institute, a federal agency created more than 70 years ago, to open its own Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 1998, said its director, Jeffrey D. White.
Still waiting for large-scale trials
Author Hester Hill Schnipper writes in After Breast Cancer: A Common Sense Guide to Life After Treatment, that $92 million was devoted to researching alternative and complementary therapies in the early 1990s. White said his office alone budgeted $122 million on clinical and other studies in 2007.
Researchers are studying acupuncture, nutrition and other therapies mostly for their effectiveness in managing cancer symptoms and side effects of cancer treatments, such as the nausea, fatigue and hot flashes often caused by treatments such as chemotherapy.

Results of a new study of dietary supplements for knee arthritis:

Sept. 30, 2008 – Results are in from a national study examining whether two popular supplements slow the progression of knee arthritis, but they are far from conclusive.
The supplements glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, taken together or alone, failed to show a clear advantage over placebo as a treatment to slow the progression of osteoarthritis of the knee.
There was a suggestion that taking glucosamine alone might be beneficial, lead researcher Allen D. Sawitzke, MD, of the University of Utah School of Medicine, tells WebMD. But the two-year study was not large enough or long enough to show this.
“I would definitely not want the message from this study to be that these supplements don’t work at all,” he says. “That would be a disservice because they might prove valuable in future studies.”
Glucosamine, Chondroitin Used by Millions
The latest findings are an extension of the National Institutes of Health-funded Glucosamine/chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT).
In 2006, GAIT researchers reported that the supplements were not much better than placebo for reducing knee pain associated with osteoarthritis. Researchers followed close to 1,600 patients who took one or both of the supplements, the painkiller Celebrex, or placebo for six months.
Some benefit was seen in patients with moderate to severe pain who took both glucosamine and chondroitin, but the finding was not conclusive because only a small number of patients in the study had pain that was considered moderate to severe.
In an effort to determine if the supplements help slow the destruction of knee cartilage, 572 of the original GAIT participants continued to take their original study treatment for an additional 18 months. All these patients had moderate to severe osteoarthritis.
The researchers used a specific X-ray protocol to determine the rate of osteoarthritis progression over time.
After two years, there was no significant difference between treatment and placebo groups.
The latest GAIT findings appear in the October issue of the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Some have picked up on the study as a way to criticize the ‘magic bullet’ approach that CAM sometimes adopts from conventional medical care. For example:

Enter any health food store, or supermarket for that matter, and you’re likely to find a wide range of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate supplements intended to fight joint and arthritis pain. The use of these two supplements have their evangelists as well as critics, with one person claiming joint pain would be unbearable without their use, and another stating the supplements offer no benefit whatsoever, other than lightening their wallet.
According to recent research, neither of the two supplements were found to work better than a placebo when it came to slowing the loss of knee cartilage associated with osteoarthritis….
In some cases chiropractors may be more likely to prescribe orthotics instead of the two above-mentioned supplements, but even the use of orthotics has its criticisms. If one is not focusing on correcting the problem a pair of orthotics (or single lift) could potentially be masking a greater problem. In my experience, a Band-Aid approach to postural correction, offers no long-term solution for correcting knee (and many times ankle) related problems.
Be sure to speak with your local chiropractor (or other health care practitioner) regarding your consumption of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate supplements if you’re taking them. Perhaps they can recommend changes in nutrition, footwear, muscle strengthening, maintained flexibility in postural muscles, another holistic noninvasive approaches.
It’s my opinion that a “solution in a bottle” is not the best approach to holistic health care.

It’s National Chiropractic Month in Minnesota:

The Minnesota Chiropractic Association (MCA) encourages all Minnesotans to make the connection between improved quality of life and chiropractic care during Chiropractic Awareness Month. October is National Chiropractic Awareness Month and is an excellent time for consumers to learn about chiropractic care and its relationship to the preservation of good health.
With the heightened interest in non-invasive and drug-free approaches,
Minnesotans are encouraged to visit their local chiropractor and learn more about how the benefits of chiropractic care may impact their lives.
Chiropractic focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system, and the impact these disorders have on general health.
Chiropractic care is most often used to treat ailments such as back pain, neckpain, headaches, and pain in the joints of arms or legs.
“More and more people are seeing the value of chiropractic care and adding it their regular health care routine,” said Debra Hurston, executive director, MCA.
Chiropractic treatment is safe and effective, and is the largest, most
regulated, and best recognized of the complementary and alternative medicine professions. To locate a licensed chiropractic professional in your area, visit http://www.mnchiro.com.
About Minnesota Chiropractic Association
Created in 1927, the Minnesota Chiropractic Association is the only
professional organization in Minnesota that solely represents the chiropractic professional on a multi-level and integrated service basis.

That’s great, because it gets cold in Minnesota.