Monday, June 19, 2017

Obese Women May Have More Intense Hot Flashes

There’s another downside for women who carry a lot of excess weight: more intense hot flashes and night sweats during menopause, new research suggests.

“This study supports earlier studies that found that women who are heavier tend to have more hot flashes, particularly close to menopause,” said Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of the North American Menopause Society.
The study involved nearly 750 Brazilian women between 45 and 60 years old.

The study authors said their findings support an idea that’s known as the thermoregulatory theory. This theory suggests that excess weight is linked to “vasomotor symptoms” – such as hot flashes and night sweats – because body fat acts as insulation, trapping heat in the body.

Obese women were also more likely to experience other symptoms more often, including joint pain, muscle pain and urinary issues, the study authors said.

The study was published online May 31 in the journal Menopause.

The researchers said their findings highlight the importance of a comprehensive approach to weight control among menopausal women.

“In some studies, but not all, weight loss and exercise have both been shown to reduce hot flashes in women who are obese, thus giving women even more reason to create a healthier lifestyle for themselves,” Pinkerton said in a journal news release.

My Take:
I don’t think the thermoregulatory theory is valid. It’s not the insulating effect of fat, but the metabolic effect that accounts for the increase in hot flashes.

As fat content in the fat cells increases, they produce inflammatory hormones that appear to have adverse effects on the endocrine system, increasing the risk of both cancer and heart disease.

Remember that central obesity (weight gain around the midline) is one aspect of metabolic syndrome. It really doesn’t matter which one shows up first because one begets another. An underactive thyroid results in weight gain which creates insulin resistance, hypertension, and high serum lipids. Rearrange these factors in any order you choose and the statement is still true.

We see the excess fat that deposits just under the skin. However, there are equal or even greater amounts of fat that encase our organs as well when we gain excess weight. Fatty infiltration of the liver is a common finding in obesity. It is also seen with other aspects of metabolic syndrome even if the patient is at ideal weight. My “thin” diabetes often have fatty livers.

This excess fat also encases the heart and the intima of blood vessels becoming major factors in coronary heart disease. Several new studies implicate these fat cell hormones in the deposition of fat in the blood vessel walls.

The Bottom Line:
Obesity is a significant health risk and the symptoms become more obvious in menopause. Life-long habits of healthy eating and regular exercise can minimize or even eliminate the symptoms associated with menopause.

Source: May 31, 2017 National Institutes of Health

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