Men Can Have Hot Flashes Too

Prostate cancer hot flashes do not respond to typical therapies

(RxWiki News) Menopausal women aren’t the only ones packing the heat. Prostate cancer survivors know what a hot flash is – the sudden flare of heat that turns the whole body hot and clammy. Women have a couple of effective treatments for the dreaded heat waves. Do they work for men?

Soy protein and a common antidepressant help women beat the heat of hot flashes.

Unfortunately, a new study found these remedies don’t work for prostate cancer patients, who get hot flashes because of the hormone therapy they take to treat the disease.

"Ask your pharmacist about remedies for medication side effects."

Mara Vitolins, DrPH, professor of public health sciences at Wake Forest Baptist, led the study.

“Changing hormone levels cause hot flashes in both women and men, so we hoped that using soy supplements and/or an antidepressant would help reduce them in men as it does in many women,” Dr. Vitolins said in a prepared statement.

Hormone therapy is used to lower the levels of male hormones known as androgens in men with prostate cancer. The treatment keeps the hormones from getting to the cancer cells and helping them grow.

Ralph de Vere White, MD, director of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center and distinguished professor of urology at the University of California, Davis, told dailyRx News, "Men with prostate cancer who receive hormonal ablative therapy as part of their treatment are in effect put into male menopause.  Like women experiencing menopause, hot flashes, which are at best a nuisance and at worst devastating, occur 80 percent of the time."

Postmenopausal women can find relief from soy protein and the antidepressant, Effexor (venlafaxine), studies have shown. The medication also manages hot flashes in breast cancer survivors who are taking hormone therapy.

Researchers in this phase lll trial sought to learn if these therapies worked with men.

Participants included 120 men between the ages of 46 and 91 who were taking androgen-lowering medications.

The men were randomly assigned to one of four daily regimens: 1) placebo (sugar) pill and milk powder; 2) venlafaxine and milk powder protein; 3) soy protein powder and placebo pill; or 4) venlafaxine and milk powder

Study members went through a seven-day pre-screening process, during which they recorded their symptoms, followed by 12 weeks of intervention with one of the regimens.

During the study period, the men recorded the number and severity of hot flashes they experienced each day. In week 12, they completed a quality-of-life survey.

“There were no significant differences between the soy and placebo arms at any time, and while participants in the venlafaxine arm tended to have fewer hot flashes during the initial 2 weeks, this early difference had disappeared by 12 weeks,” the authors wrote.

“Regrettably, none of the combinations worked. But because the study was done so well, we have a definitive answer in the search for better treatments for this unwanted side effect," Dr. de Vere White said.

Findings from this research were published September 30 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The research was supported by the National Cancer Institute and Physicians Pharmaceuticals, which supplied the soy protein. No conflicts of interest were disclosed.

Review Date: 
October 3, 2013