How many women enjoy their hot flashes? Chances are pretty near to none. But now there may be a reason to celebrate the heat wave. Researchers are saying that women who have hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms are at fifty percent or less risk of developing breast cancer, according to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle."We know that hormones are important to breast cancer risk, and we also know that menopausal symptoms occur primarily because of changes in hormones that women experience as they go through menopause," said lead author and breast cancer epidemiologist Dr. Christopher I. Li.The study which was published in the online edition of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, questioned 1,437 postmenopausal women, 988 of whom had been diagnosed with breast cancer.The women, who were between 55 and 74 years old, were asked about menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, vaginal dryness, irregular or heavy menstrual bleeding, depression and anxiety. The researchers discovered a link between the women who had the most intense hot flashes and a very low risk of developing breast cancer.Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women. About one in eight women in the United States (12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. In 2010, an estimated 207,090 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 54,010 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer. For women with the most severe menopausal symptoms, the relative risk of developing either of the two most common breast cancers -- invasive ductal and invasive lobular carcinoma -- was lowered an average of 50 percent, compared to women who reported no menopausal symptoms.
"These findings tell us more about what may cause or prevent breast cancer," said Li. "We certainly wouldn't go around inducing menopausal symptoms to reduce breast cancer risk. But if we can better understand the underlying biological mechanisms, that could help in developing prevention strategies," he said.
The study confirms the suspicion that high levels of estrogen increase the risk of breast cancer,
MOST COMMON SYMPTOMS OF MENOPAUSE
According to the Mayo Clinic, women dont actually "hit" menopause until it's been one year since the final menstrual period. In the United States, that happens on average about the about age of fifty-one.
The signs and symptoms of menopause, however, often appear long before the one-year anniversary of your final period. They include:
Increased abdominal fat
Loss of breast fullness
Robin Westen is ThirdAges medical reporter. Check for her daily updates. She is the author of Relationship Repair.
See what others have to say about this story or leave a comment of your own.