Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Symptoms of Menopause Can Be Relieved by Weight Loss
Just like death and taxes, one sure thing in [a woman’s] life is menopause. Typically occurring in their late 40s and early 50s, women can experience a whole host of physical symptoms, chief among them weight gain and hot flashes. But weight gain—both before and during menopause—just may be precipitating those hot flashes and losing a few pounds could help to relieve the severity and frequency of them.
A new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that weight loss among menopausal women resulted in improved or diminished flushing. Researchers conducted a six-month study of 338 overweight and obese women who were at least moderately bothered by hot flashes. Weight, body mass index, abdominal circumference, physical activity, calorie intake, blood pressure, and physical and mental functioning were assessed at baseline (and at 6 months). Then they were split into two groups: One group was put through an intensive behavioral weight loss program, while the control group underwent a structured health education program.
The intensive behavioral weight loss program was intended to produce an average 7-9 percent loss in weight during the six-month trial. To achieve this, calories were restricted to 1200-1500, activity was maintained at 200 minutes or more per week, and the women participated in weekly one-hour group sessions.
At the conclusion of the study, those in the weight loss program saw reductions in weight, BMI, and waist circumference and improvement in their hot flashes.
“Our findings indicate that women who are overweight or obese and experience bothersome hot flushes may also experience improvement in these symptoms after pursuing weight loss strategies; however, improvements in weight or body composition may not be the only mediators of this effect,” the researchers wrote.
Losing weight to minimize the effects of menopause can also benefit you in other ways. A recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that weight gain throughout adulthood is linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer after menopause for women who do not undergo menopausal hormone therapy. Losing weight and keeping it off can improve your odds of keeping breast cancer at bay.