Acupuncture may be an effective treatment for patients with thyroid cancer who experience radioactive-iodine-induced (RAI)-induced anorexia, according to a South Korean study published in Integrative Cancer Therapies.

Researchers led by Ju-Hyun Jeon, KMD, PhD, of Daejeon Korean Medicine Hospital examined 14 patients with thyroid cancer who were randomized to either “true” or sham acupuncture, with patients in both groups given six treatment sessions in two weeks.

Measured outcomes included change in Functional Assessment of Anorexia and Cachexia Treatment (FAACT), Anorexia/Cachexia Subscale (ACS), Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General (FACT-G), Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), weight, body mass index (BMI), and cortisol levels.

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The researchers found that true acupuncture demonstrated a higher increase but with no statistical significance, although there were significant differences between the two groups in an intent-to-treat (ITT) and per protocol (PP) analyses of Table of Index (TOI), FACT-G, and FAACT scores.

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They also found no significant differences in VAS, weight, BMI, and cortisol levels between the groups.

“Although the current study is based on a small sample of participants, our findings support the safety and potential use of acupuncture for RAI-induced anorexia and quality of life in thyroid cancer patients,” the authors concluded.


  1. Keon, Ju-Hyun, KMD, PhD, et al. “Effect of Acupuncture for Radioactive-Iodine-Induced Anorexia in Thyroid Cancer Patients A Randomized, Double-Blinded, Sham-Controlled Pilot Study.” Integrative Cancer Therapies. doi: 10.1177/1534735415570634. [epub ahead of print]. February 17, 2015.