- Question from Meg: Have there been any published studies on the use of natural foods and products like flaxseed or progesterone cream as alternatives to tamoxifen?
Marisa C. Weiss, M.D.
No. There are no "head-to-head" studies that compare pharmaceutical hormonal therapies to plant hormone-like therapies. There are studies that look at hormonal drugs and, separately, there are small, non-scientific studies that have looked at plant sources of estrogen-like molecules.
It's natural for people to want to pursue natural remedies because there's a strong belief that they are going to be more gentle, with fewer side effects. Despite this strong belief, we are without solid data to support taking these natural substances and giving up the proven powerful benefits of hormonal therapies from the pharmacy.
- Sandra F. Schnall, M.D. Do not be misled by some organizations or professionals who have strong beliefs in the natural modalities. Also, in taking them and buying them over the counter, patients should ask to take them in conjunction with the prescription hormone therapies. Before doing so, I would discuss that with your physician.
Marisa C. Weiss, M.D.
Products that come from food and plants are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. In general, the producers of these products can make these claims without substantiating them. In contrast, any drug that comes out of the pharmacy is rigorously regulated and controlled by the FDA.
The only way the drug company is allowed to make a claim about its drug's potential benefit is if there are studies to back up those claims. So, it's important to be careful when you hear claims that are enticing, at a time when you are looking for just those types of treatments.
On Wednesday, April 21, 2004, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Hormonal Therapy Updates. Sandra Schnall, M.D. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answered your questions about hormonal therapies and answered questions about which ones work best in different situations, how they might fit into your treatment sequence, how to deal with side effects, and more.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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