Friendly Flashes

Hot flashes may fight breast cancer, according to study

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle have discovered hot flashes may help protect women against breast-cancer risk by up to 50 percent.

Hormones play a vital role in the risk of having breast cancer, according to lead author and breast cancer epidemiologist Dr. Christopher I. Li.

Researchers looked at the relationship between menopause symptoms and breast-cancer risk by querying 1,437 postmenopausal women between the ages of 55 and 74 -- 988 of whom had been diagnosed with breast cancer. The women were asked about menopausal symptoms such as night sweats, sleep disturbances, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, irregular or heavy menstrual bleeding, anxiety and depression.

The research team found that women with the most severe of these symptoms were 50 percent less likely to develop the most common breast cancers, invasive ductal and invasive lobular carcinoma.

Breast cancer oncologist Dr. Stefan Gluck, a professor at the University of Miami's Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, said that by age 50, women have a two percent chance of developing breast cancer, but if she experiences menopausal symptoms, that risk falls to one percent. By age 80, the risk of breast cancer increases to 14 percent in women but plummets to seven percent if the women experienced menopausal symptoms.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer in women, right behind skin cancers. The overall chance of a woman developing breast cancer in her lifetime is about 12 percent -- or 1 in 8.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 31, 2011
Last Updated:
February 1, 2011