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Flaxseed Fails as Treatment for Hot Flashes
Date:6/5/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

SUNDAY, June 5 (HealthDay News) -- The search for a safe remedy for menopausal hot flashes has been foiled again, with flaxseed the latest in a long line of compounds that apparently don't reduce the incidence of the unpleasant symptoms.

Researchers presenting a new study Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago report that a daily flaxseed bar was no more effective than a placebo in helping with hot flashes in women with or without breast cancer.

"It's unfortunate because these are such common problems, not just in breast cancer survivors but in postmenopausal women in general," said Dr. Joanne E. Mortimer, director of women's cancers programs at City of Hope Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif. "These poor women have one less option." Mortimer was not involved with the study.

Hot flashes often occur in breast cancer patients who have undergone hormonal treatment for their tumors as well as in women going through normal menopause.

"Women who are taking endocrine [hormone] therapy and have significant side effects may be less likely to be adherent to treatment, and that leads to worse outcomes," said Dr. Erica L. Mayer, a breast oncologist with Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, who also was not involved with the new research.

Estrogen therapy has been shown to be effective in reducing the incidence of hot flashes but not without a hefty health cost, including a heightened risk of stroke and blood clots.

Flaxseed contains lignans, which can work against estrogen.

"Anecdotally it [flaxseed] has been thought to improve hot flashes and they [the researchers behind the new study] had some pilot data from a non-randomized trial that women who took flaxseed had decreased hot flashes," said Mayer. "That led to the current trial."

For the new study, almost 200 postmenopausal women who reported having at least
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