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Sandhya Pruthi, MD, PhD
Flaxseed had no effect on reducing hot flashes in postmenopausal women who reported experiencing 28 or more hot flashes per week, according to the results of a randomized phase III trial of women with and without breast cancer presented at the ASCO meeting in June.
About half of the women in the study had a history of breast cancer and the other half did not. The researchers noted that hot flashes are a common symptom during the menopause transition or following breast cancer treatment that can negatively impact the quality of life for many women. Flaxseed contains compounds that were suspected of being able to mitigate hot flashes.
“The results were surprising. Pilot study data suggested that flaxseed use was associated with [a] reduction in hot flashes,” noted lead author Sandhya Pruthi, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and a researcher with the North Central Cancer Treatment Group in Rochester. “Flaxseed may be a highly touted supplement for many ills, but according to our randomized study results, it is not effective for hot flashes.”
A cohort of 188 postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to eat a daily flaxseed bar that contained 410 mg of lignans, a plant-based compound known to have both estrogenic and antiestrogenic effects (88 women), or placebo, a bar made of protein and fiber without flaxseed or lignans (90 women), for 6 weeks. Of the 178 evaluable women in the study, 91 had a history of breast cancer while 87 did not.
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