OBJECTIVE: To compare the effects of enriched ethyl-eicosapentaenoic acid (E-EPA) omega-3 fatty acid supplementation with those of placebo on hot flashes (HFs) and quality of life among middle-aged women.

METHODS: Women were considered for participation if they were between 40 and 55 years of age and had moderate to severe psychological distress. A total of 120 women were randomly assigned to E-EPA or placebo for 8 weeks. Only women with HFs were included in this analysis (E-EPA, n = 45; placebo, n = 46). Outcomes were changes from baseline to week 8 postintervention regarding hot flash (HF) frequency (number of HFs per day), intensity and score (frequency x intensity), and Menopause-specific Quality of Life questionnaire scores.

RESULTS: At baseline, the average number of HFs was 2.8 per day. After 8 weeks, HF frequency and score decreased significantly in the E-EPA group compared with the placebo group. There was no difference in the change in HF intensity between groups. Frequency of HFs declined by a mean of 1.58 per day (95% CI, -2.18 to -0.98) in the E-EPA group and by 0.50 per day (95% CI, -1.20 to 0.20) in the placebo group. The odds of being a responder among those taking E-EPA were about three times greater than among those taking placebo (odds ratio, 2.70; 95% CI, 1.03-7.03; P = 0.04). Menopause-Specific Quality of Life scores improved significantly over time in both groups but no significant differences were noted between them.

CONCLUSIONS: Supplementation with E-EPA omega-3 fatty acid reduced HF frequency and improved the HF score relative to placebo. These results need to be confirmed by a clinical trial specifically designed to evaluate HFs in more symptomatic women.