NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Vitamins E and B complex appear to alleviate benign persistent breast pain: in a recent controlled trial, 90.2% of women who took the vitamins were pain free after one month, compared to 9.8% of the control group.
Dr. Christine Joy J. Aguirre-Trespeces, a general surgeon who led the study at Rufino Oro Iloilo Doctors’ Hospital in Iloilo City, the Philippines, told Reuters Health by email, “I would strongly recommend the use of low dose vitamin B complex 46 mg plus vitamin E 200 IU” for benign breast pain.
Dr. Aguirre-Trespeces presented the results May 4th at the annual meeting of the American Society of Breast Surgeons in Phoenix, Arizona.
Idiopathic benign breast pain is very common and leads to significant anxiety, especially among young women. In many cases, the pain doesn’t respond “to simple reassurance and lifestyle change,” Dr. Aguirre-Trespeces said. “I needed a medication to help them that is just enough to alleviate their pain and subsequent anxiety without the problems of side effects.”
During a four-year period, the researchers assigned 126 outpatients with tolerable breast pain to the vitamin treatment group and 82 to a control group, in an odd-even fashion.
Both groups received the medical center’s standard of care, which included self-care tips, education and counseling. To that regimen the treatment group added a vitamin B complex plus vitamin E tablet, once daily for one month.
“Vitamin E is known for its anti-oxidant properties and plays a role in anti-inflammatory rovers and immune enhancement, while B complex is needed for several functions, notably the nervous and immune systems,” Dr. Aguirre-Trespeces said. “Giving these two in a low-dose combination exhibits a synergistic effect with less possible side effects.”
The result is a dramatic improvement in breast pain, said Dr. Deanna Attai, Director of the Center for Breast Care, Inc. in Burbank, California, who was not involved in the study.
She cautioned, however, that the study could have been made stronger with a few changes to its design. First, she told Reuters Health, pain is especially prone to a placebo effect, so administering a placebo to the control group would have helped account for that variable.
Pain can also be cyclical, and the one-month follow-up period may have been too short to allow for longer-term changes in the patients’ condition, she noted. Finally, one month may also have been too soon to allow for diet and lifestyle changes to have an effect.
“However, this does appear to be a reasonable approach to try in patients with breast pain as the risk should be minimal,” Dr. Attai said.