WEDNESDAY, Aug. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Older, heavier women tend
to have fewer hot flashes than younger, leaner menopausal women, a
small, new study suggests.
The study included 52 women who experienced hot flashes and were
not taking medication for those symptoms.
The women's body fat percentage, waist circumference and body
mass index (BMI) were also measured, and a special skin monitor and
electronic diary were used to track their hot flashes.
The result: the researchers found that higher fat levels, BMI
and waist circumference were associated with fewer hot flashes.
These associations were strongest among white women.
However, the reduction in hot flashes associated with higher fat
levels wasn't evident in women younger than 60.
One expert who was not involved in the study said the finding
did make physiologic sense.
"Being heavier means more body fat that can convert androgens into estrogens," explained Dr. Spyros Mezitis, an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. That should mean that heavier, postmenopausal women will have more circulating estrogen than lean postmenopausal women, "which would explain the fewer hot flashes in the heavier postmenopausal women," he said.
The study also "provides a more nuanced understanding of the
relationship between body size and hot flashes, emphasizing the
important role of age," lead author Rebecca Thurston, of the
University of Pittsburgh, added in a news release from the
Mezitis stressed, however, that the finding should
not be seen as a "green light" for older women to pile on
"Being heavier means more body fat and higher insulin resistance and higher risk for metabolic syndrome," a constellation of unhealthy risk factors that can bring on heart disease, Mezitis said. "Higher estrogens may be to a certain extent cardioprotective, but I think studies will show more [arterial] risk than benefit in heavy postmenopausal women."
Another expert agreed. Dr. Stuart Weinerman, chief of the
division of endocrinology at North Shore-LIJ Health System in New
Hyde Park, N.Y., said that "weight has multiple health effects, and
this would not be evidence of finding an ideal body weight for
The findings were released online Aug. 31 in advance of
publication in the October print issue of the
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about