Hot News Flash – Brief Article
In this Prozac nation, doctors continue to identify new and important uses for antidepressants. The latest discovery may lead to a cure for menopause-related hot flashes in women, particularly those undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer.
Chemotherapy causes acute menopausal symptoms like hot flashes in women, treatment of which is tricky since the traditional remedy for hot flashes–estrogen or progesterone-could potentially stimulate regrowth of the cancer. Though there is no consensus among scientists as to whether fear of cancer regrowth is rooted in fact, doctors have preferred to play it safe with nonhormonal treatments, such as Vitamin E and Clonidine, a medication for lowering blood pressure. These methods, however, have proved largely unsuccessful.
But recent research examining a new antidepressant called Effexor, or Venlafaxine, conducted by Charles Loprinzi, Ph.D., chairman of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center’s oncology department in New York, found that breast cancer patients who were given relatively low doses of the drug experienced 40% to 60% fewer hot flashes. The study’s findings, presented recently at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, also suggest that women without breast cancer could take Venlafaxine to treat hot flashes. And men who experience hot flashes after having their prostate gland surgically removed for prostate cancer treatment may benefit, too: Of the study’s 16 male participants, 63% had a greater than 50% decrease in hot flashes.
Encouraged by his findings, Loprinzi believes his study “represents a new treatment modality for people suffering from hot flashes.” He is planning future research on other antidepressants such as Prozac and Paxil to determine the effects of these drugs on breast cancer patients who experience hot flashes.
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