Having hot flashes because of hormone deprivation therapy (ADT)? All of us dealing with advanced prostate cancer will be on ADT, it is the usual first line of therapy and it will continue until we die. Men who elect to have radiation to treat prostate cancer as their primary treatment modality will often have some ADT to shrink the size of their prostate gland or to make the radiation more effective.

What usually comes with ADT? We all know, those horrendous hot flashes. These hot flashes can be all the way from minimal to completely disrupting your life. So, along with the many other side effects we will have from ADT we often work hard to counter these hot flashes. We try various drugs, some of which might actually help promote the growth of prostate cancer, acupuncture, taking various supplements and changing our entire diet. Do any of these work, your guess is as good as mine. What I do know is that no remedy we try eliminates hot flashes. The question is do they even minimize the flashes?

Women, through the normal course of their life will go through menopause and will also experience hot flashes to various degrees. So, what do they do to combat these flashes. The very same we men do to fight the flashes caused by ADT. Why do we do the same thing, the answer is simple. We steal from the women’s experiences based on the logic that hot flashes caused by the deprivation of hormones should all respond the same. I can not argue about the logic of this belief, but it is the best we have.
What happens when we steal a remedy that we only believe works, but it doesn’t? Can we expect to get relief? I doubt it, yet we continue to fall prey to folk law about treatments.

A study published online on October 31 in the Journal of Menopause (I too was surprised that there was a journal devoted to the study of menopause) looked at the use of fiber and soy in the diet to prevent hot flashes. This observation study of 1,651 women found that over a period of ten years (10) they found that there was no association between the consumption of soy and fiber and the incidence of hot flashes.

Since many of us follow the diet and supplements folklore of controlling hot flashes using soy and fiber to control our flashes, what does this mean? My best guess is that we are barking up the wrong tree. More important, what about the many other wrong trees we bark up? Many of the things we do to control our prostate cancer have never been proven to be effective, yet we blindly continue to bark up trees. Our belief about other diet initiatives we try, supplements we pay good money might be no more effective then soy and fiber in combating hot flashes.

Perhaps we need to become more discriminating in what we believe. Folklore is fine for bedtime stories, but not to treat prostate cancer.

Joel T. Nowak, M.A., M.S.W.