UF professor receives grant to study if acupuncture may improve health of GI cancer patients

Saun-Joo Yoon, Ph.D., R.N., an associate professor of nursing. (Click image for high res download)A University of Florida College of Nursing professor will examine how acupuncture might help curb weight loss in cancer patients with a wasting syndrome.

Saun-Joo Yoon, Ph.D., R.N., an associate professor of nursing, has received a UF Research Opportunity Seed Fund award for 2014-2016 to conduct the study. Yoon is one of 16 UF faculty member principal investigators to receive this award, which supports new interdisciplinary, faculty-initiated research with the potential for extramural support.

Yoon and colleagues from the UF colleges of Medicine, Public Health and Health Professions, and Pharmacy will study the impact of an acupuncture intervention to counteract weight loss in gastrointestinal cancer patients with cachexia, a wasting syndrome whose symptoms are characterized by involuntary weight and muscle loss that cannot be reversed nutritionally. This intervention, called mechanism-based acupuncture, addresses the specific symptoms of a disease or condition.

“Treatment for cancer such as chemotherapy and tumor-mediated metabolic changes can cause weight loss, systemic inflammation and muscle waste, which negatively impacts patients’ health at a critical time,” Yoon said. “We want to explore whether complementary treatments like acupuncture specifically focused on these symptoms can improve their appetite and overall health outcomes, including their physical functioning and quality of life.”

Yoon’s past research has focused on how complementary and alternative medicines can promote health and manage chronic illness in adult populations.

Yoon and her research team will receive $84,000 over two years. UF distributes approximately 15-18 Research Opportunity Seed Fund awards each year, which range from $65,000 to $85,000.             

About the Author

Tracy Brown Wright

Former Director of Public Relations and Strategic Communications, College of Nursing

Tracy Wright was director of public relations and strategic communications for the University of Florida College of Nursing. She holds a master's degree in mass communications with a concentration in...Read More