The use of homeopathy in oncological supportive care seems to be progressing. The first French prevalence study, performed in 2005 in Strasbourg, showed that only 17% of the subjects were using it. This descriptive study, using a questionnaire identical to that used in 2005, investigated whether the situation has changed since then.
A total of 633 patients undergoing treatment in three anti-cancer centers in Strasbourg were included. The results of the “homeopathy” sub-group were extracted and studied.
Of the 535 patients included, 164 (30.7%) used homeopathy. The main purpose of its use was to reduce the side effects of cancer treatments (75%). Among the users,
- 82.6% were “somewhat” or “very” satisfied,
- 15.5% were “quite” satisfied,
- 1.9% were “not at all” satisfied.
The homeopathic treatment was prescribed by a doctor in 75.6% of the cases; the general practitioner was kept informed in 87% of the cases and the oncologist in 82%. Fatigue, pain, nausea, anxiety, sadness, and diarrhea were improved in 80% of the cases. Hair-loss, weight disorders, and loss of libido were the least improved symptoms. The use of homeopathy was significantly associated with the female sex.
The authors concluded that with a prevalence of 30.7%, homeopathy is the most used complementary medicine in integrative oncology in Strasbourg. Over 12 years, we have witnessed an increase of 83% in its use in the same city. Almost all respondents declare themselves satisfied and tell their doctors more readily than in 2005.
There is one (possibly only one) absolutely brilliant statement in this abstract:
The use of homeopathy was significantly associated with the female sex.
Why do I find this adorable?
Because to claim that any of the observed outcomes of this study are causally related to homeopathy seems like claiming that homeopathy turns male patients into women.
In case you do not understand my clumsy attempt at humor and satire, rest assured: I do not truly believe that homeopathy turns men into women, and neither do I believe that it improves fatigue, pain, nausea, anxiety, sadness, and diarrhea. Remember: correlation is not causation.