Efficacy of omega-3 for vasomotor symptoms treatment: A randomized controlled trial

Lee S. Cohen, Hadine Joffe, Katherine A. Guthrie, Kristine E. Ensrud, Marlene Freeman, Janet S. Carpenter, Lee A. Learman, Katherine M. Newton, Susan D. Reed, Joann E. Manson, Barbara Sternfeld, Bette Caan, Ellen W. Freeman, Andrea Z. Lacroix, Lesley F. Tinker, Cathryn Booth-Laforce, Joseph C. Larson, Garnet L. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: This study aims to determine the efficacy and tolerability of omega-3 fatty acids in reducing vasomotor symptoms (VMS) frequency and bother in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women. METHODS: This study was a 12-week, three-by-two factorial, randomized controlled trial. Eligible women were randomized to a double-blind comparison of omega-3 (n = 177) or placebo (n = 178) capsules, and simultaneously to yoga (n = 107), aerobic exercise (n = 106), or their usual physical activity (n = 142). Participants received 1.8 g of omega-3 daily for 12 weeks. Each capsule contained ethyl eicosapentaenoic acid (425 mg), docosahexaenoic acid (100 mg), and other omega-3s (90 mg). Primary outcomes were VMS frequency and bother. Secondary outcomes included sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index), insomnia symptoms (Insomnia Severity Index), depressive symptoms (Physician's Health Questionnaire-8), and anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7). RESULTS: The mean baseline frequency of VMS per day was 7.6 (95% CI, 7.0 to 8.2). After 12 weeks, the reduction in VMS frequency with omega-3 (-2.5; 95% CI,-3.0 to-1.9) did not differ significantly from that with placebo (-2.7; 95% CI,-3.3 to-2.2), with a relative difference of 0.3 fewer hot flashes per day (95% CI,-0.5 to 1.0; P = 0.28). Changes in VMS bother at 12 weeks were also similar between groups, with no relative difference on a four-point scale (95% CI,-0.1 to 0.2; P = 0.36). Omega-3s compared with placebo showed no improvement in self-reported sleep or mood (P > 0.09 for all comparisons). CONCLUSIONS: Among healthy, sedentary perimenopausal and postmenopausal women, a 12-week treatment with omega-3 does not improve VMS frequency, VMS bother, sleep, or mood compared with placebo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-354
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Clinical Trials Network
  • Fish oils
  • Hot flashes
  • Menopause
  • Omega-3
  • Vasomotor symptoms


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