In a pilot study announced by the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), researchers observed 40 overweight or obese white and African-American women who had been experiencing at least four hot flashes per day and found that the problem faded along with the extra pounds they lost.
Hot flashes affect 70 percent of women during menopause for as long as nine years and can reduce quality of life, interrupting sleep and causing mood swings.
The test group, which saw a 63 percent reduction in hot flashes, was subjected to a behavioral weight loss intervention in which participants lost nearly nine kilograms (around 19 and a half pounds) on average.
The control group was told they were on a waiting list for intervention and did not lose any weight, although they saw a 28 percent reduction of hot flashes.
The aforementioned behavioral weight loss method is defined as a regime intended for acute weight loss and permanent behavioral change with an eye to maintaining one's goal weight thereafter.
"This is encouraging news for women looking for relief for this bothersome midlife symptom," says NAMS Executive Director Margery Gass, MD. "Not only might behavior weight loss provide a safe, effective remedy for many women, but it also encourages a health-promoting behavior."
While such weight loss methods are well known to be difficult, and their effects are reputed as being temporary, participants report being delighted with the results.
Nearly 75 percent of them said that the possibility of reducing their hot flashes was a major motivation factor, which could encourage them to keep it off.
"Since many of the women in this pilot study indicated their primary motivator for losing weight was hot flash reduction," says Dr. Gass, "we know that this could be a strong incentive for women to engage in a healthier lifestyle which provides numerous other health benefits beyond hot flash management."
Studies have, in the past, found a correlation between the amount of fat in a woman's body and hot flashes, but this is the first indication that losing weight can help.
The authors are encouraged by the results and plan to further attack hot flashes in a larger, weight-loss oriented study.
The study was published in the journal Menopause.