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Letter: Kudos to Roswell Park for offering acupuncture

Kudos to Roswell Park for offering acupuncture

A recent letter criticizing the addition of “unconventional therapies” at Roswell Park deserves a rebuttal. I am a board-certified medical doctor, and a New York State-certified acupuncturist. I have practiced medicine for over 40 years. I have practiced integrative medicine and acupuncture for over 25 years.

The claim that “complementary” medicine and acupuncture are “pseudoscience” is false. Thousands of articles in peer-reviewed journals support the efficacy of these treatments. When utilized in cancer therapies, they are mainly used for treating side effects of traditional treatments and for patient comfort. I have personally used acupuncture in over 70,000 patient visits, with over 1.2 million needles, and have never had a joint infection, skin infection, lung collapse or any other serious complication.

A review of the medical literature between 1965 and 2009 shows 90 deaths have been reported supposedly from acupuncture treatments, many of which are debatable. More people die from elevator accidents yearly (about 27). As to it being “only” placebo effect, veterinarians do it routinely on animals with positive results. It is also done on infants. Animals and infants know nothing about placebo effect. Acupuncture has been practiced for over 5,000 years. Its longevity would not be possible if it did not help or was merely a placebo. I applaud Roswell Park for offering it as an adjunct to traditional cancer therapies.

Ronald Santasiero, M.D.


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