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Black Cohosh


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The study is based on mice. Hopefully there will be some followup to help women decide about using this herb or not.

Black Cohosh Used for Menopausal Symptoms May Promote Metastasis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) Jul 14 - Black cohosh, a herb popular for relieving the hot flashes and some other symptoms of menopause, may make cancer more likely to metastasize, U.S. and Canadian researchers said on Saturday.

Many women have taken black cohosh because it seemed to ease hot flashes and, because it was herbal, many presumed it was safe. Not so, researcher Vicki Davis of the Mylan School of Pharmacy at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh told a meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.

She said taking the supplement could endanger a woman who did not know she had cancer. "This stresses that we really need more research into herbal therapies and natural therapies."

Davis and colleagues in her lab and in Canada fed black cohosh to female mice bred to be prone to breast cancer. They gave them the daily equivalent of 40 mg of the supplement, the amount normally recommended for menopausal symptoms.

The mice were not any more likely to develop breast cancer in the first place. But those that did develop it were more likely to develop metastatic disease, Davis said.

Her team found that 27% of mice that ate black cohosh had the cancer spread to the lung, compared to 11% of the mice not given the herb.

While the findings do not prove that using black cohosh could endanger a woman with undiagnosed breast cancer, Davis did say it would be risky to take it. Women who have breast cancer -- or any other form of cancer -- may need to be especially wary, she said.

"One thing we don't know is whether it might accelerate a tumor that might be likely to metastasize or increase the numbers of tumors that would metastasize," Davis said. "But neither one is good."

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