Menopause affects every woman. Hot flashes are one of the most common signs of menopause experienced by women on a daily basis. Other signs of menopause include night sweats, sleep difficulties, and irritability. These menopause symptoms might be bothersome for women, but a new study reveals that such symptoms can help reducing the risk of several common forms of breast cancer.
About the research
Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington questioned 1,437 postmenopausal women, 988 of whom had been previously diagnosed with breast cancer. The women, who were between 55 and 74 years old, were asked about perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms, including hot flushes (or flashes), night sweats, insomnia, irregular or heavy menstrual bleeding, vaginal dryness, depression and anxiety.
Researchers found that women who had such symptoms had a substantially smaller risk of developing breast cancer and those who had the most hot flashes had a very low risk of developing breast cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death among women in the U.S.
The findings specifically showed that women with menopausal symptoms have almost 40% to 60% less risk of having two most common types of breast cancer, invasive ductal and invasive lobular carcinoma.
The researchers have linked a hormone oestrogen, which is linked with progesterone, responsible for developing breast cancer.
The lead author and breast cancer epidemiologist Dr. Christopher I. Li said “We know that hormones are important to breast cancer risk, and we also know that menopausal symptoms occur primarily because of changes in hormones that women experience as they go through menopause.” Now, for the first time, he said researchers looked at the relationship between menopause symptoms and breast cancer risk.
The study was published in the Jan. 26 online edition of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention. The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute.
The study results are encouraging yet this is the first study to look at menopause symptoms and breast-cancer risk, further findings are needed to validate the results.