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NewsBites August 2011 Issue

Flaxseed Fails to Relieve Women’s Hot Flashes

Scratch flaxseed from the “A” list of hoped-for treatments for menopausal hot flashes. Flaxseed has weak hormone- like effects, compared to the hormone pills that ease hot flashes, but without the pills’ breast-cancer risks. Inspired by patients’ testimonials, Mayo Clinic researchers put flaxseed to the test with 178 women experiencing hot flashes more than twice daily. About half had suffered from breast cancer, meaning they couldn’t safely turn to hormone pills for relief. All the women were given daily snack bars, with or without flaxseed. Compared to baseline, after six weeks there was no difference between those getting flaxseed and the control group: A third of each group reported 50% fewer hot flashes, which researchers attributed to a placebo effect. The fiber content in the snack bars also raised the incidence of bloating, diarrhea and nausea. The findings were reported at an American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting.

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