ealth Initiative found in 2002 that estrogen plus progestin increased risk for breast cancer, heart attacks, strokes and blood clots.
"Whether or not the black cohosh findings are bad news for women depends on how you look at it," said Newton. "It's disappointing that we didn't find black cohosh to be an effective remedy.
On the other hand, thousands of women, probably hundreds of thousands of women, buy products that contain black cohosh to help relieve their menopausal symptoms. Our study indicates that black cohosh is not a promising remedy to treat their hot flashes.
The HALT study was funded by the National Institute on Aging and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. It is the most definitive study yet of the effects of black cohosh. Previous studies have been small, short-term studies that were inconclusive.
The study, "Treatment of Vasomotor Symptoms of Menopause with Black Cohosh, Multibotanicals, Soy, Hormone Therapy, or Placebo," and an accompanying editorial, " A Randomized Trial of Alternative Medicines for Vasomotor Symptoms of Menopause," is published in the Dec. 19, 2006, issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.
Editorial writers say the study is a "well-designed, adequately powered RCT that makes an important contribution, albeit one that will disappoint women who have been hoping for an effective, safe alternative to estrogen."
The good news, the editorial writers say, is that women in the placebo group experienced about a 30 percent reduction in severity and frequency of symptoms during the 12-month follow-up period.
This means that many women will probably have fewer symptoms within six to 12 months without any treatment at all.
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