Black/Blue CohoshCancer

Looking back to see if black cohosh might prevent breast cancer

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia reviewed the records of about 2500 women — some with and others without breast cancer.

The objective was to determine if any hormone-related supplements they had taken in the past might be associated with a lower risk of breast cancer.

They found that black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) was associated with a significant protective effect for breast cancer. This association was similar among women who used black cohosh or Remifemin (an herbal preparation derived from black cohosh).

The bottom line?
First of all, take a moment before running out too buy black cohosh.

This study looked at the historical use of supplements. As such it is interesting but the results should be confirmed by doing a study that looks at the effects of black cohosh going forward in real time. There are just too many confounding variable in this type of study to come to any definitive conclusions.

The researchers state, “Additional confirmatory studies are required to determine whether black cohosh could be used to prevent breast cancer.”

In addition, the safety record of black cohosh is not good, as summarized here, here, here, and here. And there is the issue of poor quality control in the manufacturing process of black cohosh products that results in product-to-product variability and adulteration.

4/28/07 11:23 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.