Those menopause hot flashes and night sweats! Most women hate them, but there may be some benefits to dealing with those annoying flashes of intense heat that mark the transition into the second half of life. According to new research, women who have hot flashes during menopause may have a lower risk of breast cancer.
Hot Flashes and the Risk of Breast Cancer
In a new study published in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, researchers interviewed almost 1,500 post-menopausal women to look at the symptoms they experienced during menopause – including hot flashes and night sweats. Some of these women had been diagnosed with breast cancer in the past while others had not.
What did they find? A hot flash might not be such a bad thing if you’re worried about breast cancer. When they looked at the results, they found a 40 to 60% lower risk of breast cancer in women who dealt with menopause hot flashes and night sweats. They also found that women who had the most intense hot flashes and night sweats had the lowest risk of breast cancer.
This is only one study that surveyed women after the fact, but there are some physiological reasons why women who have hot flashes are less likely to develop breast cancer. Hot flashes and night sweats make their debut as the female hormones estrogen and progesterone decline as a normal part of aging – and estrogen stimulates the growth of some breast tumors. Women who have more severe hot flashes may have more rapidly declining estrogen levels or lower total estrogen levels, which could make them less susceptible to breast cancer.
Hormones Play a Role in the Risk of Breast Cancer
The role that estrogen and progesterone play in breast cancer risk has already been shown by studies linking hormone replacement therapy with a greater risk of breast cancer. Researchers took this into account when they designed this study as well as other factors such as weight, family history and activity levels, which could alter breast cancer risk.
Hot Flashes and the Risk of Breast Cancer: The Bottom Line?
It’s one small study, but these findings could make women dealing with the symptoms of menopause a little less unhappy when a hot flash hits and they throw back the covers in frustration. Stay tuned for more research on this intriguing finding.
Medical News Today. “Menopausal Hot Flashes Linked to a Significant Reduction in Breast Cancer”