Hot flashes occur in approximately 80% of men who are undergoing hormone manipulation as treatment for prostate cancer. However, neither soy protein nor a common antidepressant provides relief from hot flashes for men, according to new research.

Hot flashes involve a flushed face, sweating, and a sudden rush of heat. Hormone therapy reduces levels of the male hormone androgen. The goal of hormone therapy is to prevent androgen from reaching prostate cancer cells and stimulating their growth.

“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,” said Mara Vitolins, DrPH, professor of public health sciences at Wake Forest Baptist and lead author of the study. The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (2013; doi:10.1200/JCO.2012.48.1432).

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Participants in the phase III, double-blind, multicenter study completed a 7-day prescreening phase and 12 weeks of intervention. A total of 120 men, ages 46 to 91 years, who were androgen-deprived were randomly assigned to one of four daily regimens: placebo pill and milk powder; venlafaxine, an antidepressant commonly prescribed to treat hot flashes in women, and milk powder protein; soy protein powder and placebo pill; or venlafaxine and milk powder.

Hot flash symptom severity and frequency and quality of life were assessed by the researchers. They found that neither venlafaxine nor soy protein alone or in combination reduced hot flashes in men.

“Utilizing interventions that appear effective in decreasing hot flashes in women to treat men who have hot flashes has proven to be relatively ineffective,” Vitolins said. She stated that these findings highlight the need for continuing efforts to identify treatments for hot flashes that are specifically developed for men.