Eating flaxseed may not ease menopausal hot flashes after all, despite some promising early evidence that it might, according to a U.S. study.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota found that 188 women who were randomly assigned to eat a daily flaxseed bar saw no more improvement in their hot flashes than women given flax-free "placebo" bars.
Over six weeks, more than one-third of the women in each group had a 50 percent reduction in the frequency and severity of their hot flashes.
The similar results in both groups suggest a placebo effect or some other explanation for the changes some women reported, said researchers led by Debra Barton, whose findings were reported in the journal Menopause.
"What women should take from this study is that there is little compelling information to try flaxseed if the objective is to reduce hot flashes," Barton told Reuters Health in an email.
In an earlier pilot study, Barton and her colleagues had found that women who consumed flaxseed did see their hot flashes wane, on average.
But that study had no comparison group of women taking a placebo, she noted.
Flaxseed is high in compounds called lignans, a type of phytoestrogen. These are plant chemicals structurally similar to estrogen that may have a weak estrogen-like, and an anti-estrogen, effect on the body.
The most effective treatment for hot flashes is hormone replacement therapy, but since hormones have been linked to increased risks of heart disease, blood clots and breast cancer, many women want alternate remedies.
Some anti-depressants have been found to cool hot flashes by as much as 80 percent. But Burton noted that "natural" products, such as black cohosh, soy and now flaxseed, have failed to stand up to clinical trials.
The latest study included women with bothersome hot flashes, such as those occurring at least an average of four times a day. Half of them had a history of breast cancer, which would generally make it inadvisable to treat the symptoms with hormones.
Barton's team randomly assigned the women to eat either a flaxseed bar or a placebo bar each day for six weeks. The flaxseed bar contained fiber, protein and 410 milligrams of lignans. The placebo bar provided fiber and protein.
By the end of the study, 36 percent of women in both groups had a 50 percent drop in their hot flash "scores", which rank symptoms and severity. One third of women in each group said they thought their symptoms were moderately to "very much" improved.
Barton said there were several possible reasons.
In general, hot flash studies have found a significant placebo effect, with women feeling better because they expect to. Overall, 20 percent to 30 percent of placebo users improve, though some studies find even higher rates.
On top of that, hot flashes naturally cool off over time for some women, and they can be extremely variable since environmental triggers, such as hot weather or stress, often set them off.
"This is why it's important to perform randomized, placebo-controlled trials to understand the potential risks and benefits of interventions," she said. SOURCE: http://bit.ly/o9DEa5
PEG-2S promises to tackle superbugs that threaten world health
The change affects grazing conditions for the 146,000 or so semi-domesticated reindeer in Norway who feed on lichen and moss under the snow.
The discovery of the giant shipworm, a species never before studied, marked the first time scientists had live specimens in hand, according to an article published this week in American journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
As many as one in 45 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in the United States, according to a recent study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A full 1.6 billion people remain affected by NTDs -- more than 500 million of them children -- but that number is down from more than two billion in 2010, WHO said.
For the first time ever in modern history, a team of scientists Monday documented as what they're describing as large-scale river reorganization as a result of human-caused climate change.
In the next few hours he will receive a healthy kidney thanks to a pioneering system that has made Spain the world leader in organ transplants for the past 25 years.
Japan's corals, the northernmost in the world, could offer important data to bolster knowledge about marine life, as Australia's Great Barrier Reef faces a threat to its survival.
China is the world's largest consumer and producer of tobacco, and the industry provides the government with colossal sums.
During his time leading IAS, Mark Wainberg organised the 13th International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa, and he also co-chaired the same conference in Toronto in 2006.
The UN's health agency said the epidemic had left more than 25,000 people sick, warning that number was likely to double by the end of June.
80 percent of countries acknowledge that their financing is still not enough to meet their nationally-set targets for increasing access to safe water and sanitation, it found.
Study finds a significant decrease in just 3 years after a ban was put in place limiting the inclusion of trans fats in eateries
The illness causes acute inflammation of the outer layers of the brain and spinal cord, with the most common symptoms being fever, headache and neck stiffness.
Last year, the military was forced to apologize after a video surfaced of three soldiers torturing and strangling a stray dog to death with an iron chain, prompting several street protests.