OAKLAND, Calif. — Weight loss that occurs in conjunction with a low-fat, high fruit and vegetable diet may help to reduce or eliminate hot flashes and night sweats associated with menopause, according to a Kaiser Permanente Division of Research study that appears in the current issue of Menopause.
This Women’s Health Initiative study of 17,473 women found that women on a diet low in fat and high in whole grains, fruit and vegetables, who had menopausal symptoms, who were not taking hormone replacement therapy, and who lost weight (10 or more pounds or 10 or more percent of their baseline body weight), were more likely to reduce or eliminate hot flashes and night sweats after one year, compared to those in a control group who maintained their weight.
Many women experience hot flashes at some point before or after menopause, when their estrogen levels are declining, explain the researchers.
The Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification trial enrolled a diverse group of 48,835 post-menopausal women between 1993 and 1998 at 40 United States clinical centers to evaluate the effects of a low-fat dietary pattern on heart disease, breast and colorectal cancer, and fracture in post-menopausal women. The dietary intervention was aimed at reducing fat intake and increasing fruit, vegetable and whole grain intake. Although weight loss was not a goal, participants assigned to the intervention group lost on average 4.5 pounds between baseline and year one, compared to the control group.
Additional authors on the study include: Marcia L. Stefanick, PhD, with the Stanford Prevention Research Center; Garnet Anderson, PhD, with the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center in Seattle; Robert Brzyski, MD, PhD, with the University of Texas; Karen C. Johnson, MD, MPG, with the University of Tennessee Health Science Center; Erin LeBlanc, MD, MPH, with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research; Cathy Lee, MD, with the University of California, Los Angeles; Andrea Z. La Croix, PhD, with the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center; Hannah Lui Park, PhD, with the University of California, Irvine Department of Epidemiology; Stacy T. Sims, PhD, with the Stanford Prevention Research Center; Mara Vitolins, DrPH, with Wake Forest University in North Carolina; and Robert Wallace, MD, MS, with the University of Iowa College of Public Health. This research was funded by a grant from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.