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30-01-2011 | Gynaecology | Article

Hot flashes could indicate reduced breast cancer risk

Abstract

Free abstract

MedWire News: Women aged 55-74 years who have ever experienced menopausal symptoms are less likely to develop breast cancer than women of the same age who have never experienced symptoms, indicate study findings.

"While menopausal symptoms can certainly have a negative impact on quality of life, our study suggests that there may be a silver lining if the reduction in breast cancer risk is confirmed in future studies," said senior author Christopher Li (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington, USA).

Li and co-workers examined the association between menopausal symptoms and the risk for breast cancer in 494 women with invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), 307 with invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC), 187 women with invasive ductal-lobular carcinoma (IDLC), and 449 women with no history of the disease.

Women who had ever experienced menopause symptoms (including hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness) were 50 percent less likely than women who had never experienced symptoms to have IDC or ILC, after accounting for hormone therapy use, age at menopause, and body mass index.

Furthermore, the risk for all three cancer subtypes decreased with increasing intensity of hot flashes, report the researchers.

"A plausible biologic explanation for our findings is that menopausal symptoms are a surrogate marker for hormonal changes that are relevant to the etiology of breast cancer," remark Li et al.

MedWire (www.medwire-news.md) is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Sarah Guy