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Research Suggests Black Cohosh (RemiFemin®) Can Be Used Safely By Breast Cancer Patients.
Pittsburgh PA, 3 October 2002

Test Tube Research Indicates Standardized Herbal Supplement Has No Estrogenic Effects on the Breast

A study published in the current issue of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment suggests that RemiFemin® Menopause can be used safely to relieve menopausal symptoms in women with a history of breast cancer who cannot take estrogen. The study adds to the growing body of evidence showing that RemiFemin relieves symptoms without exerting an estrogenic effect. This is welcome news for the many women who cannot or who choose not to take hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

"This is promising news for all women, especially those with a history of breast cancer, who are looking for estrogen-free alternatives to treat menopausal symptoms," said Susan Love, MD, internationally recognized authority on women's health, Adjunct Professor of Surgery at UCLA, and the author of several books, including, the best selling Dr. Susan Love's Hormone Book and Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book.

Study Design and Methods

The research, conducted by Johannes Freudenstein, PhD, and colleagues, was designed to evaluate the safety of RemiFemin Menopause, a standardized black cohosh supplement, as an alternative for estrogen-sensitive patients for whom HRT is contraindicated. The study examined and compared the effects of black cohosh extract, estrogen, tamoxifen (an anti-estrogen) and a placebo control on estrogen-sensitive breast cancer cells.

To evaluate the safety and estrogenic activity of RemiFemin, Dr. Freudenstein and colleagues performed experiments using cultured estrogen receptor-positive MCF-7 cells. The experiments tested for potential estrogen-like activity of RemiFemin by examining the rate of growth of MCF-7 cells exposed to black cohosh extract as compared to both negative (placebo) and positive (estrogen) controls, as well as tamoxifen.

When black cohosh was introduced to the cell model it, in contrast to estrogen, did not stimulate growth. In fact, dilutions comparable to the commercially available dose of black cohosh extract (RemiFemin) resulted in significant inhibition of MCF-7 cell growth. Furthermore, black cohosh was found to enhance the inhibitory effect of tamoxifen, a commonly prescribed drug for treatment of breast cancer, which, as expected, significantly reduced cell proliferation.

"Unlike estrogen, which stimulated cancerous cell growth in the human-breast cell system studied, RemiFemin did not have such a proliferative effect, confirming its safety in patients with a history of breast cancer. These data provide important evidence that black cohosh works differently than estrogens and phytoestrogens to relieve the symptoms of menopause," noted Steven Weisman, PhD, a pharmacologist and herbal expert.

This research was funded by Schaper & Brummer, a leading herbal company based in Salzgitter, Germany.


Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a commonly prescribed treatment for relief of menopausal symptoms, which affects a third of American women -- more than 35 million -- each year. However, recent reports from the Women's Health Initiative question its ability to improve women's overall health on a long-term basis and raise concerns about long-term safety. While HRT still remains a valuable option for women who want short-term relief of menopausal symptoms, many women cannot or choose not to take HRT. In addition, experts recommend that women with estrogen-sensitive cancers seek alternative methods for alleviating menopausal symptoms.

Herbal treatments are gaining popularity for relieving symptoms of menopause. However, data on the effectiveness of phytoestrogens, including soy and red clover, are uncertain. In addition, phytoestrogens, based on their mechanisms of action, may have effects that are similar to estrogen in women at increased risk of female cancers.

Unlike estrogens and phytoestrogens, RemiFemin Menopause has been shown to relieve menopause symptoms without estrogen-like activity -- this data supports the non-estrogenic effects of Remifemin in the breast, which was also demonstrated in an in-vivo study published in the June issue of Cancer Research.


GlaxoSmithKline, manufacturer of RemiFemin, via PR Newswire.end-of-story


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