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Menopausal women commonly turn to alternative therapies for relief

10 years, 9 months ago

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Posted on Mar 12, 2009, 10 a.m. By gary clark

In a study of 563 women who had previously used hormone therapy during menopause, nearly half turned to alternative medicines for further relief from symptoms.

Dr. Elizabeth M. Kupferer and colleagues at the University of Texas at Austin, School of Nursing, found that the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in menopausal women is fairly common. Dr. Kupferer's team studied 563 from all U.S. states except Hawaii. The women were 58 years old on average, and reported having entered menopause in their mid 40s. Of those women, a total of 45 percent said that they used alternative therapies to alleviate such symptoms as night sweats and hot flashes. The most common therapies - at 27 percent - were vitamins and calcium supplements. The herbal supplement black cohosh was used by nearly one quarter of the women, and 19 percent reported using soy supplements and foods to relieve symptoms.

Some of the women also reported using meditation and relaxation, evening primrose oil, blood pressure lowering medications, homeopathic treatments, red clover, and anti-seizure medications. And 14 percent reported taking antidepressants. Overall, the study found that CAM users were more likely between 40 and 50 years old, and less than 5 years post-menopause.

"It is important for women to tell their healthcare providers they are using CAM, and to gather accurate information about CAM safety and efficacy from reliable sources such as their health care providers," Dr Kupferer emphasizes. Moreover, she recommends that health care providers "be alert to CAM use and be up to date on the safety and efficacy data available for each type."

With the relatively common use of CAM therapies reported in this and prior studies, Kupferer and colleagues suggested the need for additional research to "delineate recommendations for a variety of CAM strategies."

Participants were recruited via a questionnaire they received in the mail from the University. The questionnaire asked specifically for women who had previously used prescription hormone therapy, but had discontinued its use.

News Release: Menopausal women often use alternative therapies   March 6, 2009

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