-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, May 28, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Estrogen therapy and
the non-hormonal drug venlafaxine (Effexor) are nearly equally
effective in reducing menopause-related hot flashes and night
sweats, according to a new study.
"Our new findings provide critical data for physicians and women making treatment decisions for hot flashes/night sweats. Our data show that first-line hormonal and non-hormonal pharmacological treatments are well-tolerated and effective options for alleviating symptoms," the study's lead author Dr. Hadine Joffe, director of the Women's Hormone and Aging Research Program at Brigham and Women's Hospital, said in a hospital news release.
"Hot flashes and night sweats ... affect up to 80 percent of women in midlife and are the primary menopause-related symptoms leading menopausal women to seek medical attention," Joffe noted.
Estrogen therapy is considered the "gold standard" treatment for
hot flashes and night sweats, but is used at the lowest possible
doses due to potential risks associated with the treatment,
according to the researchers. These risks include blood clots and
an increased risk of certain cancers.
Venlafaxine, also known by the brand name Effexor, is more
commonly prescribed to treat depression or anxiety, according to
the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
The study included almost 350 women who were either entering
menopause or had been through menopause. All of the women had hot
flashes and night sweats. They were randomly assigned to receive
either low-dose oral estrogen estradiol, low-dose venlafaxine
hydrochloride extended release, or an inactive placebo.
After eight weeks, hot flashes and night sweats decreased by
nearly 53 percent among women on estrogen therapy. In women taking
venlafaxine, those symptoms dropped by nearly 48 percent. Almost 29
percent of those taking a placebo also had improvement in their
Compared to the placebo, estradiol reduced the number of hot
flashes or night sweats by an average of 2.3 more per day.
Venlafaxine reduced the number of these symptoms by 1.8 more per
day, according to the study published online May 26 in
JAMA Internal Medicine.
The study, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, is
the first to compare estrogen therapy and a non-hormonal treatment,
and shows that venlafaxine offers an effective alternative to
The U.S. Office on Women's Health has more about
menopause symptom relief and treatments.
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