MEDICINE: People at risk from acupuncture

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The Independent Online
People who use acupuncture to cure health problems could be putting their lives at risk, experts warned yesterday .

Five people have died and others have been infected with hepatitis B, HIV and other potentially lethal infections following the treatment, according to review of the traditional Chinese therapy.

Edzard Ernst, professor of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter, who carried out the study, believes life-threatening effects could be far more widespread.

"The notion that acupuncture is free of risk and side effects is clearly not true and is dangerously misleading.

His review of the adverse effects of acupuncture across the world, published in the medical journal Pain, found the most common serious complications were trauma from the needle piercing the heart or the lung and infection from dirty needles.In one case, a British acupuncturist infected 36 patients with hepatitis B by reusing needles.

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