Omega-3 Fatty Acids Do Not Reduce Vasomotor Symptoms, Research Shows

   Patricia I. Carney, MD, and colleagues at the Christiana Care Health System in Newark, Delaware, noted that a recently published study showed a significant decrease in vasomotor symptoms with omega‐3s, but  asserted that there were methodological issues. They conducted the study reported on in San Francisco to explore the hypothesis that omega‐3 fatty acids relieve vasomotor symptoms in menopausal women.

   Dr. Carney and colleagues randomly assigned 58 women to omega‐3 dosed at 2 g/d or placebo. Forty-three women completed the trial (omega‐3, n=21; placebo, n=22). Changes from baseline to week 12 in number of hot flashes per day, hot flash score (frequency x intensity), satisfaction, and lipids were assessed.

   At baseline, the mean number of hot flashes per day in the treatment group was 8.5 vs 9.5 in the placebo group, a difference that did not attain statistical significance. The frequency of hot flashes declined by 2.3 per day in the omega‐3 group (27%) and by 2.6 per day in the placebo group (25%), also a non-significant difference). There was also a nonsignificant decline in hot flash score by 6.7 in the omega‐3 group (36%) and by 8.7 in the placebo group (33%).

   Women were classified as responders if they had two fewer hot flashes per day. Fifty-seven percent of women in the omega‐3 group (12/21) and 41% of women in the placebo group (9/22) were responders. That difference too was not a significant (P=0.29).

   The researchers concluded that supplementation with omega‐3 did not significantly decrease daily hot flashes vs placebo. And while more women responded to omega‐3 than placebo (a decrease of two or more hot flashes per day), that result did not have statistical significance. A larger trial might have the power to detect significant benefits, according to Dr. Carney and colleagues.

   A related study reported on at the San Francisco meeting was performed at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, NJ. Chadwick S. Leo, DO, performed a double‐blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study of  186 women with irregular or absent menstrual cycles suffering from at least five moderate to severe hot flashes per 24‐hour period. They were administered placebo or a study capsule containing hypericin, 2.7 mg; isoflavones, 125 mg; isoflavones, 60 mg; triterpenes 4 mg; and ginsenosides, 16 mg.  When compared with placebo, the supplement group showed a statistically significant difference, (P<0.05) in patients reporting a decrease in both frequency (83.5% vs 32.9%) and severity (89.4% versus 41.8%) of hot flashes and night sweats.