ROCHESTER, MINN. -- Venlafaxine, an antidepressant drug, helps reduce the incidence of hot flashes in men undergoing androgen-deprivation therapy for prostate cancer, according to a recent Mayo Clinic report published in the Journal of Urology.
The researchers found that 10 out of 16 men (63 percent), had a greater than 50 percent reduction in hot flashes at the end of the fourth week of taking the antidepressant drug compared to a baseline week in which study participants took no drugs for hot flashes. The incidence of severe and very severe hot flashes in each patient was reduced from an average of 2.3 per day during the baseline week to an average of less than one per day at the end of the study.
"Approximately three out of four men who undergo androgen-deprivation therapy experience uncomfortable hot flashes", says Charles L. Loprinzi, M.D., Mayo Clinic medical oncologist and one of the authors of the study.
Information from this pilot study suggests that antidepressants such as venlafaxine offer the first effective non-hormonal treatment for hot flashes in men. Ongoing work is looking at various doses of venlafaxine and similar antidepressants to better determine the efficiency and toxicity of this approach.