Black Cohosh's Effect -- Good And Bad -- On Cancer Drugs

I've posted a number of articles over the years about black cohosh, a herbal treatment women use to alleviate hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause naturally, instead of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Although black cohosh is often recommended to women going through cancer therapy, seems it may change the way a woman's body reacts to drugs used to treat breast cancer. And, unfortunately, some of the news isn't good.

Scientists examined a widely studied mouse breast cancer cell line to determine if commercially available extracts of black cohosh altered the response of cancer cells to radiation and four drugs commonly used in cancer therapy. To the good, black cohosh increased cell killing in two of the cancer drugs. However, it decreased the effectiveness of a third drug, and had no effect whatsoever on the effect of radiation or a fourth drug.

Why each agent responded differently to black cohosh is unknown and warrants further study, according to the study. Until then, scientists urge patients being treated for breast cancer to consult with their physician before taking black cohosh, certainly wise advice.

In the meantime, here's a short list of steps you can take to reduce your risks of cancer:

Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, April 2005, Vol. 90, No. 3: 233-239

EurekAlert April 27, 2005

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