WEDNESDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- Menopausal women who lose weight eating a low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables could reduce or eliminate their hot flashes and night sweats, a large new study suggests.
One reason the researchers looked at weight loss as a way of dealing with menopausal symptoms was because of long-standing research linking hormone-replacement therapy to heart disease and breast cancer.
"We wanted to see if this could be an alternative to hormone therapy," said lead researcher Candyce Kroenke, a research scientist at Kaiser Permanente's Northern California Division of Research in Oakland.
"Indeed, women who lost weight in the context of this healthier diet -- decreasing fat, increasing whole grains, fruits and vegetables -- were significantly more likely to reduce or eliminate symptoms," she added.
Reduced hot flashes and night sweats, the key menopausal symptoms, were seen in both overweight and normal-weight women who lost weight, Kroenke noted.
And the reason for that is fairly simple, she said: Fat tends to retain heat and losing weight helps the body dissipate heat more easily.
The report, which was published July 11 in the online edition of Menopause, involved data on more than 17,000 women who took part in the Women's Health Initiative study.
The women with menopausal symptoms who were on a low-fat diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, who were not taking hormone-replacement therapy and who lost at least 10 pounds in a year were more likely to see night sweats and hot flashes reduced or disappear after a year than did women who maintained their weight (the "control" group), the researchers found.
Dr. Jennifer Wu, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, commented that "this definitely goes along with the idea that good diet and exercise and losing weight co
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