Health Blogs | Breast Cancer | Nutrition | Menopause

Magnesium Reduces Hot Flashes in Breast Cancer Patients

June 13th, 2011 by Aaron Tabor
Hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause are common among breast cancer patients.  These hot flashes are the result of breast cancer treatments with tamoxifen and raloxifene that block estrogen action, aromatase inhibitors that inhibit estrogen production, and chemotherapy.  The hot flashes and other menopause symptoms experienced by breast cancer patients can be quite severe; however, normal treatment for menopause symptoms, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), is generally not recommended for breast cancer survivors.  While other drugs for the treatment of hot flashes like SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and anti-depressants have been shown to somewhat helpful, treatments with fewer side effects are still desired.

A new pilot study explored the possible effectiveness of magnesium supplementation for hot flash reduction in breast cancer patients.  For this small pilot study, investigators recruited 25 breast cancer patients who were experiencing at least 14 hot flashes per week and asked them to take 400 milligrams of magnesium oxide every day for 4 weeks.  The breast cancer patients were allowed to increase their magnesium supplementation to 800 mg per day if they felt it was necessary.  The results of the study showed:
  • 17 of the 25 breast cancer patients increased their magnesium dose to 800 mg per day.
  • Hot flashes were reduced by about 41% from about 52 hot flashes per week on average to an average of 28 hot flashes per week.
  • Hot flash score was reduced by 50% from a score of about 110 to a score of about 48.  
  • 14 of the breast cancer patients experienced a reduction in hot flash score of more than 50%.
  • 76% of the breast cancer patients (19 of 25) showed as least a 25% decrease in hot flash score.
  • Other menopause symptoms including fatigue, sweating, and distress were also reduced by magnesium supplementation.
  • Reported side effects were considered minor and included one case of headaches, one case of nausea, and 2 cases of diarrhea.
These are surprisingly excellent results for simple supplementation with magnesium.  Magnesium is a mineral that is essential to our good health.  It is important for bone health and numerous cellular processes.  The recommended daily allowance for magnesium is between 300 - 400 mg per day depending on a person's age and sex.  Therefore the initial dose used in this pilot study was about 100% of the recommended daily value.  However, most of the breast cancer patients needed to elevate their magnesium supplementation to 800 mg per day or 2 times as much as needed to meet our nutritional needs.  While magnesium intake from foods does not cause any side effects, magnesium supplements can cause nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramping and more.  If you want to learn more about the health benefits of magnesium and food sources of magnesium, the National Institutes of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements has an in-depth Magnesium Factsheet.

To learn about diet and lifestyle choices to reduce your breast cancer risk, read my FREE book FIGHT NOW: EAT & LIVE PROACTIVELY AGAINST BREAST CANCER. Please recommend to anyone interested in breast cancer, breast cancer treatment, and breast cancer symptoms.
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Tags: breast cancer treatment, breast cancer research, breast cancer symptoms, Breast Cancer, breast cancer risk, Headaches, Nutrition, Menopause

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