Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 19, Issue 6, pp 859–863 | Cite as

A pilot phase II trial of magnesium supplements to reduce menopausal hot flashes in breast cancer patients

  • Haeseong Park
  • Gwendolyn L. Parker
  • Cecelia H. Boardman
  • Monica M. Morris
  • Thomas J. Smith
Short Communication



We tested if magnesium would diminish bothersome hot flashes in breast cancer patients.


Breast cancer patients with at least 14 hot flashes a week received magnesium oxide 400 mg for 4 weeks, escalating to 800 mg if needed. Hot flash score (frequency × severity) at baseline was compared to the end of treatment.


Of 29 who enrolled, 25 women completed treatment. The average age was 53.5 years; six African American, the rest Caucasian; eight were on tamoxifen, nine were on aromatase inhibitors, and 14 were on anti-depressants. Seventeen patients escalated the magnesium dose. Hot flash frequency/week was reduced from 52.2 (standard error (SE), 13.7) to 27.7 (SE, 5.7), a 41.4% reduction, p = 0.02, two-sided paired t test. Hot flash score was reduced from 109.8 (SE, 40.9) to 47.8 (SE, 13.8), a 50.4% reduction, p = 0.04. Of 25 patients, 14 (56%) had a >50% reduction in hot flash score, and 19 (76%) had a >25% reduction. Fatigue, sweating, and distress were all significantly reduced. Side effects were minor: two women stopped the drug including one each with headache and nausea, and two women had grade 1 diarrhea. Compliance was excellent, and many patients continued treatment after the trial.


Oral magnesium appears to have helped more than half of the patients and was well tolerated. Side effects and cost ($0.02/tablet) were minimal. A randomized placebo-controlled trial is planned.


Menopause Hot flashes Breast cancer Survivorship Drug treatment 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Haeseong Park
    • 1
  • Gwendolyn L. Parker
    • 2
  • Cecelia H. Boardman
    • 3
  • Monica M. Morris
    • 4
  • Thomas J. Smith
    • 2
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Internal Medicine Residency ProgramVirginia Commonwealth University Health SystemRichmondUSA
  2. 2.Massey Cancer Center Cancer Prevention and Control ProgramVirginia Commonwealth University Health SystemRichmondUSA
  3. 3.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyVirginia Commonwealth University Health SystemRichmondUSA
  4. 4.Department of Radiation OncologyUniversity of Virginia Radiation OncologyCharlottesvilleUSA
  5. 5.Palliative Care Research and Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology and Palliative CareThomas Palliative Care UnitRichmondUSA

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