OAKLAND, Calif. July 11, 2012 Weight loss that occurs in conjunction with a low-fat, high fruit and vegetable diet may help to reduce or eliminate hot flashes and night sweats associated with menopause, according to a Kaiser Permanente Division of Research study that appears in the current issue of Menopause.
This Women's Health Initiative study of 17,473 women found that women on a diet low in fat and high in whole grains, fruit and vegetables, who had menopausal symptoms, who were not taking hormone replacement therapy, and who lost weight (10 or more pounds or 10 or more percent of their baseline body weight) were more likely to reduce or eliminate hot flashes and night sweats after one year, compared to those in a control group who maintained their weight.
Many women experience hot flashes at some point before or after menopause, when their estrogen levels are declining, explain the researchers.
"While the mechanism is not completely understood, hot flashes and night sweats are thought to be caused by a complex interaction that involves fluctuating hormone levels, the hypothalamus region of the brain that regulates body temperature, brain chemicals and receptors, and the body's blood vessels and sweat glands," said Candyce Kroenke, ScD, MPH,a research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research and lead author of the study.
Although previous research has shown that high body weight and weight gain are associated with hot flashes and night sweats associated with menopause, this study is the among the first -- and the largest-to-date -- to analyze whether weight loss on a diet designed to reduce fat and increase whole grains, fruit, and vegetable intake might ameliorate symptoms. It is also among the first to examine the influence of a dietary change on symptoms that include hot flashes and night sweats, said Kroenke.
"Since most women tend to gain weight with age, wei
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