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Science / Medicine : Dissolved Pill Reduces Risk

From staff and wire reports

Delivering estrogen through a melt-in-your-mouth tablet reduces the hot flashes of menopause without risking liver damage from larger doses that are required for pills that are swallowed, a study at the University of Southern California reports.

The tablet dissolves over three to five minutes while held in the buccal, or hollow, cavity of the cheek. This allows the estrogen to enter the bloodstream through the cheek’s mucous membrane rather than through the digestive system.

“Smaller doses are needed to get enough of the drug in circulation, so the estrogen’s adverse effect on the liver is reduced,” said Dr. Donna Shoupe, a USC assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology and co-principal investigator in the study.

The study of 60 women tracked hot flashes over eight-hour periods by measuring skin temperature and skin resistance before medication and after four weeks of taking it. Overall, the drug reduced hot flashes 80% to 90%, Shoupe said.

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