Flaxseed Does Not Reduce Hot Flashes

ASCO Annual Meeting
June 5, 2011

Recent research on the effects of flaxseed showed that it doesn't help reduce hot flashes for women who have gone through menopause. Hot flashes are a common symptom of menopause and hormonal therapy for breast cancer. Using estrogen can help reduce hot flashes, but many women are concerned about the risks of this type of treatment. An early, smaller study suggested that taking flaxseed may help reduce hot flashes.

This study included 188 women who had gone through menopause or were receiving treatment to block or stop estrogen and were experiencing about 28 hot flashes per week. About half of the women had a history of breast cancer and the other half did not. The women who participated in this study were randomly assigned to eat either a flaxseed bar or a bar without flaxseed.

After six weeks, researchers found little difference between both groups in the amount and severity of the hot flashes that the women experienced. A little more than one-third of the women who ate the flaxseed bars and those who had no flaxseed experienced about half as many hot flashes during the study.

What this means for patients

“The results were surprising. An earlier study suggested that flaxseed use was associated with a reduction in hot flashes,” said lead author Sandhya Pruthi, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “Flaxseed may be a highly-touted supplement for many ills, but according to our study results, it is not effective for hot flashes.”

Questions to ask your doctor

  • What is the chance that cancer treatment will cause postmenopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes?
  • How can hot flashes and other symptoms of treatment be managed?

For More Information

Guide to Breast Cancer

Menopausal Symptoms

Complementary and Alternative Medicine