Hypnotherapy Minimizes Hot Flashes in Menopause and Breast Cancer Therapy Patients

Baylor Study Finds Hypnotic Relaxation Therapy Minimizes Hot Flashes

Sept. 24, 2008

Researcher Awarded NIH Grant to Start New Study

Media contact: Matt Pene, Assistant Director of Media Communications, at (254) 710-4656

With an estimated 85 percent of women experiencing hot flashes as they approach menopause, finding effective non-medication treatment is vitally important. A new Baylor University study shows hypnotic relaxation therapy can decrease the frequency and severity of hot flashes in menopausal women, including breast cancer survivors. Interference from hot flashes, like loss of sleep and social interaction difficulties, also decreased in the majority of women who received hypnosis.

The research was published online this week in The Journal of Clinical Oncology. (A link to the article abstract can be foundhere.)

"This study validates that this type of treatment is effective in decreasing hot flashes," said Dr. Gary Elkins, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor. "There is a real need to study emerging mind-body interactions to treating these ailments because many times medications are not an option."

In the study, 26 women who are breast cancer survivors received hypnotic relaxation therapy and were compared to 25 other breast cancer survivors who did not receive treatment. The women who received hypnosis reported a 68 percent decrease in hot flashes. Anxiety, depression and insomnia also decreased.

Breast cancer survivors were chosen because the medications that are given to these women to help prevent the reoccurrence of breast cancer often times cause them to go into menopause in a matter of days. Furthermore, hormone replacement therapy is not an option because of an increased risk of breast cancer recurrence associated with hormone therapy, thus creating a need for alternative mind-body treatments.

Based on the results of this study, Elkins has received a $2.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for a much broader study that will significantly increase the scope and number of patients participating. The grant is the largest ever awarded by NIH for this type of research.

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