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Lose weight and reduce hot flashes

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A new study has found that overweight postmenopausal women who lose weight can reduce hot flashes. Thus, reduction of troublesome hot flashes could serve as a motivation to enter into a weight loss program. The findings were published online on June 23 in the journal Menopause.

According to the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), the most common symptom of the menopause is hot flashes. Approximately 75% of menopausal women in the United States experience them. Most women who have them are well aware of the symptoms: a sudden sensation of heat that rushes into the upper body and face. The skin may redden like a blush and a woman may break out in a sweat. A hot flash may last from a few seconds to several minutes or longer. Hot flashes can cause lack of sleep by frequently waking a woman from a deep sleep. Lack of sleep may be noted by a woman as the most troublesome of the menopause.

The study authors note that being overweight has been considered to be protective against hot flashes, newer data suggest a positive relationships between hot flashes and overweight. They explain that, to date, no studies have been specifically designed to evaluate whether weight loss reduces hot flashes. Therefore, they conducted a study with the foal of evaluating the feasibility, acceptability, and initial effectiveness of weight loss for reducing hot flashes.

The study group comprised 40 overweight or obese women who suffered from hot flashes (four or more hot flashes per day). The women were randomized to either a behavioral weight loss intervention group or wait-list control group. Hot flashes were evaluated before and after intervention with physiologic monitoring, diary, and questionnaire. Changes in hot flowers were evaluated via statistical analysis.

The investigators found that 83% of the women completed the study and 94% reported a high degree of satisfaction with the intervention. The majority of the women (74%) reported that hot flash reduction was a major motivator for losing weight. Women randomized to the weight loss intervention group lost more weight (8.86 kilograms or 19.4 pounds weight loss) than did women in the control group (0.23 kilogram or 0.5 pound weight increase). Women in the weight loss intervention group also reported greater decreases in questionnaire-reported hot flashes (two week hot flashes were –63.0), compared to women in the control group (two week hot flashes were -28.0; P = 0.03) Reductions in weight and hot flashes significantly correlated.

The authors concluded that a behavioral weight loss program is practicable, acceptable, and effective in producing weight loss among overweight or obese women with hot flashes. They recommend that a larger study should be conducted to further confirm their findings. They noted that hot flash management could motivate women to engage in this health-promoting behavior.