If you're going through the menopausal transition, you probably don't have many nice things to say about hot flashes. A new study could change your mind. Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle have found that women who have the most intense hot flashes are 40 to 60 percent less likely to get the two most common types of breast cancer, invasive ductal and invasive lobular carcinoma.
In fact, women with the most severe and frequent hot flashes had the lowest risk, according to the study to be published in next month's issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention. Women whose hot flashes were severe enough to wake them up at night had a particularly low risk, the researchers said.
The researchers can't explain this effect but they speculate that since menopausal symptoms occur as hormone levels fluctuate, women who have the most severe hot flashes might have a lower risk because they have less estrogen, which is known to play a role in the development of breast cancer. According to the study, the association between reduced breast cancer risk and hot flashes didn't change even when they factored in other things that are known to increase the risk of breast cancer, such as obesity and hormone replacement therapy.
This doesn't make living through a hot flash any easier of course. But it may give you some hope that your suffering isn't in vain.
In the meantime, for some tips on how to alleviate hot flashes through lifestyle changes, click here.