Monday, November 8, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 4:10 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

What was learned: Edward Sauter, MU associate professor of surgical oncology, discovered that the natural hormone replacement black cohosh does not increase estrogen levels in the breast.

How they did it: Black cohosh, an indigenous plant, has been used for centuries by Native Americans to heal gynecological illnesses.

In 2002, it was discovered that hormone replacement therapies increased estrogen levels in women’s bodies. Increased levels of estrogen are linked to a higher risk of heart disease, stroke and breast cancer.

In his study, Sauter administered black cohosh for 12 weeks to 73 menopausal women. A majority of women reported relief from hot flashes. Bloating was the side effect that received the most complaints.

As a result, Sauter concluded that black cohosh triggers the brain to relieve menopausal symptoms, not increase estrogen levels.

Why it matters: A study done by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists indicated that one in four women have resumed taking hormone replacement therapies that increase estrogen levels, despite the health risks, because they offer the best relief from the symptoms of menopause. Sauter hopes his research will give women a safer choice in menopause relief.

Information: Get more information about Sauter’s study, “Black Cohosh Extract in Postmenopausal Breast Health.".

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