Health updates: Hot flashes and chocolate

The following is new information regarding a new study on acupuncture and hot flashes, and healthy limits for chocolate.

Acupuncture beats drug to treat hot flashes

Acupuncture works as well as Effexor, a drug commonly used to combat hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms that can accompany breast cancer treatment. In fact, the benefits of acupuncture last longer than those of Effexor, and without any bad side effects. After 12 weeks of treatment, symptoms were reduced for 15 additional weeks for women who had undergone acupuncture, compared with just two weeks for those who had taken Effexor. Not only were no bad side effects associated with acupuncture, women who underwent the treatment reported increased energy and an overall sense of well-being. Those taking Effexor reported having nausea, headache, difficulty sleeping, dizziness, increased blood pressure, fatigue and anxiety.

How much chocolate should you eat?

According to researchers, 6.7 grams of dark chocolate per day — a bit less than half a bar a week — represents the ideal amount for a protective effect against inflammation and cardiovascular disease. The findings come from one of the largest epidemiological studies ever conducted in Europe. The study focused on the complex mechanism of inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular diseases, ranging from myocardial infarction to stroke.

The study found that people who consumed moderate amounts of dark chocolate regularly had significantly lower levels of C-reactive protein in their blood, which indicates that their inflammatory state was considerably reduced. Those who ate dark chocolate regularly had a 17 percent average reduction in C-reactive protein — enough to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease by one-third in women and one-fourth in men. The findings apply to dark chocolate only. Milk chocolate does not have the same effect, since milk interferes with the absorption of polyphenols.


Sources: Reuters, September 22, 2008; American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology Meeting, September 21-25, 2008, Boston, MA.; Science Daily, September 23, 2008, and The Journal of Nutrition, October 2008, 138:1939-1945.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 28, Number 1, Feb/Mar 2009.

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