A study has suggested that woman who give up smoking during the menopause, may have fewer and less severe hot flashes than women who continue to smoke.
The time since the last cigarette, appears to have a direct relationship with women who had given up smoking for 5 years, being 45% less likely to have severe or frequent hot flashes than smokers. But even these women were still more likely to have symptoms than women who had never smoked.
“While the effect was strongest if women quit at least five years before the onset of menopause, even women quitting later did have a better outcome than women who continued to smoke,” lead author Rebecca Smith, a researcher in epidemiology at the University of Illinois, “I hope that this encourages women to quit smoking, the earlier the better.”
The researchers studied followed women ages 45 to 54 for up to seven years.
347 women were experiencing hot flushes at the commencement of the study.
52% of ex smokers had hot flushes compared with 39% of never smokers and 62% of current smokers.
47% from the current smoking group, had symptoms daily or weekly which were moderate to severe.
In comparison, only 22% of never-smokers had moderate to severe hot flushes and less than 10% of these occurred on a daily or weekly basis.
Hot flushes afflicted 36% of ex-smokers.
In contrast, women who quit were 37% less likely to have hot flushes and 22% less likely to have frequent or severe symptoms when compared with current smokers.
Current smokers were 4 times more likely to have hot flushes than women who had never smoked.
The authors acknowledge that the study does not prove that smoking causes or worsens hot flushes.
They venture that smoking may interfere with hormones, neurotransmitters and other mechanisms that are also linked to hot flashes.
There was a 14% reduction in the severity of hot flushes and a 19% reduction in frequency, in women who had quit at least 5 years before when compared to women who had quit more recently.
“It is never too late to quit, and quitting may reduce other health risks that are even more serious than the hot flashes,” Ellen Freeman(not involved in the study), a researcher in obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, said “Quitting can also lower women’s risk for cardiovascular disease and cancers”
“To my knowledge, this is the first study to show that stopping smoking in mid-life can reduce hot flashes.”