University of Rochester researchers, who have been investigating new therapies for hot flashes for several years, report in the July Obstetrics and Gynecology journal that the seizure drug gabapentin is as effective as estrogen, which used to be the gold standard treatment for menopause symptoms.
Estrogen is no longer the preferred therapy because recent, large studies have shown that the hormone increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, breast cancer and Alzheimer's disease for some women. Given that news, millions of women have abandoned hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and are seeking other ways to ease symptoms. So-called natural remedies such as soy, herbal products or acupuncture have not proven safe or effective at this point.
The latest Rochester study is the first to compare gabapentin and estrogen head-to-head against a placebo. Although it showed a substantial placebo effect similar to other menopause studies – women taking the sugar pill reported a 54-percent reduction in hot flashes – the women taking gabapentin and estrogen reported even better results, with a 71 percent to 72 percent decline in symptoms.
"Gabapentin does appear to be as effective as estrogen," said lead author Sireesha Y. Reddy, M.D., assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Rochester Medical Center. "Until now its efficacy relative to estrogen was unknown."
Approximately 75 percent of postmenopausal women between the ages of 35 and 60 experience hot flashes. Gabapentin (sold under the trade name Neurontin) was approved by the FDA in 1994 to treat epileptic seizures but has been used off-label for years to treat headaches, shingles pain and other ailments. Scientists hypothesize that gabapentin may reduce hot flashes by regulating the flow of calcium in and out of cells, which is one mechanism for controlling body temperature.
An expert panel on menopause convened by the National Institutes of Health last year cautioned against the tendency to use treatments with scant safety data, and concluded that nothing to date was as effective as estrogen therapy although more research was needed.
In the latest study, Reddy and colleagues enrolled 60 women in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial for 12 weeks. Initially the researchers received more than 1,500 calls from women who wanted to participate, but after screening the callers to meet the study's protocol, the number was whittled to 60, with 53 women complying with every step.
They were randomly divided into three groups: 20 women received gabapentin at 2,400 mg per day and a daily placebo or fake estrogen pill; 20 received estrogen in the form of Premarin at 0.625 mg per day and a fake gabapentin pill; 20 received sugar pills resembling gabapentin and estrogen. The women recorded the frequency and severity of their hot flashes in diaries.
Results were tabulated using two statistical methods to compare the women's hot flash reports throughout the 12-week period with their baseline symptoms. Doctors did find that women who took gabapentin complained more often of headaches, dizziness or disorientation. Researchers believe that slowly ramping up the medication and taking it with meals can alleviate the side effects.
Leslie Orr | EurekAlert!
Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution
09.12.2016 | Veterans Affairs Research Communications
Oxygen can wake up dormant bacteria for antibiotic attacks
08.12.2016 | Penn State
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine