Vitamin E is one of only a handful of remedies that
may provide some relief for breast cancer survivors
who suffer hot flashes, according to experts from the
Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Estrogen relieves hot flashes in most women, but concerns
remain over its use in breast cancer survivors because
the hormone may stimulate breast cancer growth. Similar
concerns limit the use of another group of female hormones,
the progestins, although they are also effective.
When evaluating the advertised effectiveness of hot
flash treatments, the authors state, it is worth noting
that dummy pills, or placebos, relieve hot flashes by
at least half in 20% of the women who take them.
The herb black cohosh seems to alleviate hot flashes
and other symptoms of menopause, and is approved for
this purpose in Germany.
Vitamin E, at a dose of 800 international units (IU)
per day, is modestly effective in reducing hot flashes,
the team reports, on average cutting the number of hot
flashes by one per day.
Based on their review of the subject, the authors recommend
trying vitamin E for mild hot flashes, as it is safe,
inexpensive, and has some demonstrated efficacy.
The Lancet Oncology 2001;2:199-204