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Study May Help Cool Hot Flashes

August 6, 2010

A pill used for nerve pain offers women relief from hot flashes, Mayo Clinic researchers report at the 45th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). They say the agent, pregabalin, decreased hot flash severity and frequency about 20 percent more than did a placebo agent. Thus, pregabalin appears to offer about the same benefit as gabapentin, an older, related drug, as well as newer classes of antidepressants. Hot flashes are a major problem in many women, and for those who opt not to take hormonal therapies or antidepressants, pregabalin appears to be another treatment option, says the studys lead author, Charles Loprinzi, M.D., a medical oncologist at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. While pregabalin offers about the same benefit as gabapentin, women who use it only need to take two pills a day, versus three for gabapentin, he says. Side effects can occur with the use of either drug. However, in this study, they were not severe enough that participants stopped using the active study drug any more often than did patients who were taking placebos, researchers say. Dr. Loprinzi has pioneered the field of nonhormonal hot flash therapy, which he began researching decades ago to help breast cancer patients using tamoxifen, an anti-estrogen treatment that creates symptoms of menopause. He is the first researcher to test the use of antidepressants, compared to placebo treatment, for hot flashes.

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