Review on April 13, 2009
Many women suffer some form of mild breast pain at different stages throughout their lives. Although breast pain may be very uncomfortable, for a short period of time it is bearable and unlikely to cause much disruption to a woman's life. It's not until perimenopause and menopause itself that many woman start to feel unbearable breast pain and tenderness as a side effect of their bodies fluctuating hormone levels.
Evening primrose oil has long been associated with menopause and its apparent hormone balancing properties are well known. It is used by some menopause suffers as a treatment for breast pain. However until recently, medical research into the effectiveness of this supplement and its possible benefits regarding the treatment of breast pain have been limited.
A 2002 study conducted in Amsterdam at the Vrije University Medical Center tested the effectiveness of evening primrose oil in treating breast pain. The clinical trial was set up to test women suffering from a form of breast pain known as severe chronic mastalgia.
In this study 120 sample women were placed in four groups. Over a six month period each group took a different supplement, while their levels of breast pain were monitored by researchers. One group took evening Primrose oil, another fish oil, one a combination of both these oils and the fourth a mix of control oils, mainly corn and wheat germ. Breast pain was measured by the percentage of days a month each woman suffered from it.
The results make interesting reading, in the words of the leading researcher Jacqueline Blommers, "All groups showed a decrease in pain. Neither evening primrose oil nor fish oil offered clear benefit over control oils in the treatment of mastalgia."
In fact, breast pain for those taking evening primrose oil decreased by 12.3 % while the wheat germ and corn oil group had an improvement in their levels of breast pain of 13.8%. Fish oil again showed similar results, having a decrease in breast pain of 10.6%.
Although this shows that an increase in healthy oils is good for the body in general it does not indicate that evening primrose oil has any specific effect on breast pain for menopausal women.
- Evening primrose oil and fish oil for severe chronic astalgia: A randomized, double-blind, controlled trial, Jacqueline Blommers, MDa, Elisabeth S.M. de Lange-de Klerk, MD, PhDa, Dirk J. Kuik, MSca, Pieter D. Bezemer, MSc, PhDa, Sybren Meijer, MD, PhDb, 2002, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.