Symptoms of Menopause Hot Flashes Reduced in Heavier Women

by Laura Ramirez on September 2, 2011

Symptoms of menopause hot flashes were once thought to be caused in part by excess weight. A recent epidemiological study has debunked this and shown that heavier women especially those over the age of 60 tend to suffer less with hot flashes. This is good news for women who have difficulty losing weight although if weight is a health concern, don’t be tempted to use this as an excuse to hang onto excess pounds.

Hot flashes are caused by decreasing estrogen levels, but women with higher levels of body fat typically have more estrogen which may be the reason for this finding.

Here’s an excerpt from one article on the subject:

In contradiction of recent evidence on menopausal women and hot flashes, a new study indicates that heavier women tend to have fewer hot flashes than those who are thinner. Interestingly, however, the trend is seen only among women aged 60 years and older.

Obesity has been regarded in recent years as a risk factor for hot flashes amid research indicating that heavier women tend to suffer from the menopause symptoms more commonly. These findings, which are based largely on epidemiologic studies, support a “thermoregulatory model,” explain the researchers, “in which hot flashes represent heat dissipation events occurring in the context of the narrowed thermoneutral zone.” Consistent with this theory is that body fat acts an insulator, increasing the frequency of hot flashes.

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symptoms of menopause hot flashes

Symptoms of menopause: hot flashes may be reduced with an increase in body fat in women over 60.

This new study which was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism was done on black and Caucasian women who ranged in age from 53 to 63. The women who had a higher waist circumference and higher body fat had fewer hot flashes. The women in the study were not taking medications of any kind and still had their reproductive organs intact. Women over the age of 60 had hot flashes in inverse proportions to their weight circumference and body fat percentage. Black women reported more hot flashes than white women.

It has been said that post menopausal weight gain of 15-20 pounds is normal and healthy for women. As noted earlier, don’t use menopause as an excuse to fall into bad habits or fail to exercise, but the fact that aggravating symptoms such as hot flashes are less intense and frequent for women who do allow themselves to gain some weight may indicate that moderate weight gain is normal in menopausal women and may even have a slight protective benefit in terms of fewer symptoms and less suffering through midlife change.

What do you think about these new findings on symptoms of menopause: hot flashes and weight gain? Will this make you less likely to continue to attempt to lose that last 10-20 pounds if you feel you are overweight? Please leave your thoughts below.ᅠ

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