Health: Natural therapies to be tested as cancer cure

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The Independent Online
A study of the effects of aromatherapy and relaxation sessions on cancer patients is to be done to try to discover whether they are valuable therapies or overrated fads. Four cancer charities are backing the study, believed to be the first of its kind. One aim will be to discover whether relaxation techniques, which can be practised in groups, are as effective as aromatherapy, which costs about pounds 25 for an hour's individual session.

Jean King, of the Cancer Research Campaign, said: "Its [the study's] findings may affect national and local health-service policy on the funding of these services."

There has been a boom in cancer patients seeking alternative therapies, some paid for by the NHS, but there is no evidence they improve quality of life.

More than 500 patients are to take part in the three- year trial, which begins next month in London, Liverpool and Middlesex.

Dr Susie Wilkinson, who is heading the trial, said: "I am very excited about this study, because this is a neglected area of research.

We should finally be able to say for certain whether these therapies are worthwhile."