Can Weight Loss Cool Hot Flashes?
Women Who Lost Weight on Low-Fat Diet Had Fewer or No Hot Flashes, Researchers Find
Weight Loss & Hot Flash Relief: Perspective
The new study takes what is known about weight and hot flashes, expands our knowledge, and explains the link better, says Jill Rabin, MD, chief of ambulatory care, obstetrics and gynecology, and head of urogynecology at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. She reviewed the findings.
Doctors have long suspected that women who are overweight or obese tend to have more hot flashes during menopause than those who are leaner, she tells WebMD. "It may be because of the estrogen that is stored in the fat tissues," she says.
The new findings suggest that ''the fat cell itself may be functioning in a way we didn't realize to regulate temperature and produce substances that alter perception of body temperature," she says.
The women on the low-fat diet who didn't lose weight but had fewer hot flashes may have reduced their body fat, Rabin says.
The women in the low-fat diet group also received information about how to overcome obstacles to behavioral change and control cravings, says Alison Huang, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. She also reviewed the findings.
"These [mental] and behavioral aspects of the program may have made it easier for women to cope with their symptoms or changed their subjective perceptions of their symptoms, so that they no longer perceived their symptoms as being so severe or disruptive," she tells WebMD.
Until more research is in, Rabin says one take-home message is clear from the new research. "Not only will weight loss cut your risk of [heart disease and stroke] and lengthen your life, it may make you feel more comfortable as you go through the menopausal transition and beyond," she says.