Flaxseed has been touted for its calming effects on the hot flashes postmenopausal women and breast cancer patients, but recent research casts doubt on this benefit. The study finds that there is no difference between the symptoms of women taking flaxseed or a placebo control.
Flaxseed provides no benefit in easing hot flashes among breast cancer patients and postmenopausal women, according to a Mayo Clinic and North Central Cancer Treatment Group (NCCTG) study. The randomized, placebo-controlled study was conducted on 188 women between October and December 2009 and found no statistically significant difference in mean hot flash scores between women taking flaxseed and those taking a placebo. Preliminary data published in 2007 by Mayo Clinic investigators suggested consuming 40 grams of crushed flaxseed daily might help manage hot flashes.
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The researchers presented their new findings during the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting in Chicago.
“Hot flashes are a common symptom during the menopause transition or following breast cancer treatment,” says Sandhya Pruthi, M.D., of Mayo Clinic’s Breast Diagnostic Clinic and a researcher with NCCTG. “While our preliminary data from our 2007 pilot study showed a reduction in hot flashes associated with the consumption of ground flaxseed, our new study did not result in a significant decrease in hot flashes with eating flaxseed compared to placebo.”
Dr. Pruthi says patients shouldn’t give up flaxseed if they enjoy it. Flaxseed may be beneficial for people who want to add fiber and bulk to their diet to manage constipation, she says. Dr. Pruthi says more research is needed to identify whether flaxseed has any other health benefits.