Arizona Cancer Center researcher awarded $3.1M for integrative medicine anti-tobacco program

Dr. Myra Muramoto
Dr. Myra Muramoto

The grant will fund the development and evaluation of a new program to train chiropractors, acupuncturists and massage therapists in effective ways to help their patients and clients quit tobacco.

Dr. Myra Muramoto, Arizona Cancer Center member and associate professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, has received $3.1 million from the National Cancer Institute to develop and evaluate a new program to train chiropractors, acupuncturists and massage therapists in effective ways to help their patients and clients quit tobacco.

The grant will fund "Project Reach," which will partner over the next five years with Pima County chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists and their office staff to evaluate ways they can best help their patients quit tobacco.

Many practitioners of complementary and integrative medicine offer preventive health and wellness services in addition to therapeutic services. By encouraging their patients and clients to quit using tobacco, these practitioners can play an even greater role in helping people lead healthier lives.

"Chiropractors, acupuncturists and massage therapists are in an excellent position to help patients improve their health by supporting them through the process of quitting tobacco," said Muramoto, the lead researcher on Project Reach.

"Tobacco use has been linked with chronic pain, problems with healing and a host of other serious health conditions," she said. "Practitioners can talk with patients/clients about how quitting can improve their health and treatment, with the emphasis on health and wellness that complementary and integrative practitioners are known for."

Researchers from the UA College of Medicine and the UA Department of Anthropology will collaborate on Project Reach.

The project's development was inspired by the results of a 2007 survey by the UA Department of Family and Community Medicine of licensed acupuncturists, chiropractors and massage therapists in Tucson who were asked about their training, experience and opinions relating to helping people quit tobacco.

The survey found that 77 percent of the acupuncturists, 58 percent of the chiropractors and 17 percent of the massage therapists ask new patients/clients about tobacco use. Sixty-four percent of the practitioners had no training in helping people quit tobacco, and 66 percent were interested in receiving such training.

Project Reach will develop tobacco cessation training specifically tailored for the needs of complementary and integrative medicine practitioners.

Smoking is the No. 1 preventable cause of disease and death in the U.S. Smoking and other tobacco use are directly related to many health problems and can interfere with treatment and recovery.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 38 percent of U.S. adults use some form of complementary or alternative medicine, including chiropractic, acupuncture and message therapy. About 20 percent of them are tobacco users.

Muramoto also is an associate professor with the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. She is a 2005 graduate of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine's two-year fellowship program.

By Jean Spinelli, Arizona Health Sciences Center, June 15, 2010