Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Facebook | Breast cancer patients test reflexology --

Can reflexology mitigate the effects of chemotherapy on women with breast cancer? One study hopes to show if this is true or not. 

This is going to be great PR for reflexology when it is released in 2010. However after reading the brief synopsis from the Chicago Tribune it may not be the greatest science. 

This is a research study that is uses "placebo reflexology" or placebo foot massages (whatever that is). These studies never seem to have very clear results. The one saving grace is that there is one group that receives no treatment at all. This simply makes more sense than fake reflexology. 

Placebo reflexology doesn't exist. It is figment of researchers imaginations. It assumes that a practitioner can clearly fake it.  Also it assumes that there "points" on the foot rather than areas that may be stimulated by the fake reflexology. the boundaries seem very thin.  

Or let us go the other way. Isn't the chance for a placebo effect quite high if you think you are receiving the real reflexology even though you are receiving the fake reflexology? Isn't that the very definition of a placebo effect? 

A further issue with these types of protocols is the problem that arises when the practitioners do both the real reflexology and the sham reflexology. The implication of the Chicago Tribune article is that the practitioner is doing both the real and the fake sessions. I hope not. 

The tests are meant to demonstrate whether there is a difference between reflexology and foot massage in addressing certain conditions. Can a practitioner "cross the line" into real reflexology if their heart goes out to a poor cancer victim who happens to be suffering a great deal? They are only human. It might not even be consciously done. 

Or what is the definition of a fake treatment. Is it foot massage or is it simply avoiding the areas traditionally used in reflexology to address these conditions. This isn't as simple as administering a sugar pill. It involves humans.  

This research is also something that has been already been done. There are a fair amount of research done by other researchers on cancer and chemo. But this time the research study will cost three million dollars. That is a lot of money. Perhaps it is because of the size of the study and it's length of 5 years that it so costly. 

Don't get me wrong. I am all for more research and especially in this population. But I am curious what sets this apart from the other studies already done. It has to be good at that price tag. 

I hope I am wrong about this study. I hope it shows something clear cut and defendable as good science. We have seen too many muddled protocols that fail to clearly demonstrate a positive or negative result. 

I really hope I am wrong. Time will tell. 

Kevin Kunz

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