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Can I use diet to help my hot flushes while I am taking tamoxifen?

There has been some work looking into diet and hot flushes during menopause. There has been quite a bit of research into claims that eating soy and other phyto oestrogens (such as flaxseed) can help to control hot flushes. So far, the research hasn't borne this out – there is no significant evidence that phyto oestrogens can help.

Some women find that hot flushes are made worse by

  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine containing drinks, such as colas
  • Spicy foods

You could try cutting out each of these in turn and seeing what happens. Smoking can also make flushes worse.

If you suspect that something else in your diet is affecting you, you could keep a food diary for a week. This means that any time you eat or drink anything you write down the date, time, and what you had. Do this on one side of a page. In another column, you can write down the date and time every time you have a hot flush. Over a period of time, you will be able to see if your hot flushes get worse after having any particular food or drink.

You need to be quite disciplined to keep a food diary. And it can take some time. Try cutting out the obvious foods and drinks first. 

If you are finding your flushes difficult to cope with, talk to your doctor or breast care nurse. There are now a few drugs that have been shown to help reduce hot flushes, including low dose progesterone.

There is detailed information about coping with hot flushes and sweats in our hormone symptoms section.

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Updated: 1 November 2012