Body fat might trap heat inside the body, researchers say
By Mary Elizabeth Dallas
WEDNESDAY, May 31, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- There's another downside for women who carry a lot of excess weight: more intense hot flashes and night sweats during menopause, new research suggests.
"This study supports earlier studies that found that women who are heavier tend to have more hot flashes, particularly close to menopause," said Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of the North American Menopause Society.
The study involved nearly 750 Brazilian women between 45 and 60 years old.
Although the study didn't prove cause and effect, it found that women who were obese had more extreme hot flashes that interfered with some activities and took a toll on their performance at work.
The study authors said their findings support an idea that's known as the thermoregulatory theory. This theory suggests that excess weight is linked to "vasomotor symptoms" -- such as hot flashes and night sweats -- because body fat acts as insulation, trapping heat in the body.
Obese women were also more likely to experience other symptoms more often, including joint pain, muscle pain and urinary issues, the study authors said.
The study was published online May 31 in the journal Menopause.
The researchers said their findings highlight the importance of a comprehensive approach to weight control among menopausal women.
"In some studies, but not all, weight loss and exercise have both been shown to reduce hot flashes in women who are obese, thus giving women even more reason to create a healthier lifestyle for themselves," Pinkerton said in a journal news release.
The U.S. National Institute on Aging provides more information on menopause.
SOURCE: The North American Menopause Society, news release, May 31, 2017
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