September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in Canada and we want to bring attention to a common side effect many men with prostate cancer experience – hot flashes. Hot flashes are generally only associated with women in menopause, however, more than 75% of men receiving hormone therapy for their prostate cancer have hot flashes. Called androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), hormone therapy is a type of prostate cancer treatment that blocks the effects of androgens (like testosterone) and can slow prostate cancer growth. Hot flashes are a common side effect of this treatment.
Hot flashes can negatively affect quality of life and their full impact on health and well-being is often underestimated. For men with prostate cancer taking hormone therapy, hot flashes will likely persist for the duration of treatment, which is often 2-3 years or could be longer. Conventional support for hot flash reduction is limited and most men are left to manage symptoms on their own.
The good news is there is natural support for managing hot flashes that is both safe and effective during ADT.
Here are some ideas to try:
- Acupuncture: multiple high-quality studies have demonstrated that acupuncture could be an effective tool in the management of hot flashes
- Deep breathing
- Sage tea: 1 teaspoon of the dried herb (non-ground), steeped in boiling water for at least 10 minutes, consumed daily
- Reducing food triggers: coffee, alcohol, citrus, chocolate and spicy foods
- Ground flax seeds: 2 tablespoons, consumed daily
- Yoga and exercise have been shown to help reduce frequency and intensity of hot flashes
Consider consulting with a naturopathic doctor who could recommend other supportive therapies that have been shown to reduce hot flashes. If hot flashes are interrupting sleep, work and your mental health, consider reaching out for additional support.