Menopause symptoms reduce breast cancer risk

Food Consumer

Stephen Lau and editing by Aimee Keenan-Greene
January 27, 2011

Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center say women suffering from severe menopause symptoms may be at a 50 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer than those who don’t experience severe symptoms.

Menopause marks the stopping of the activity of the ovaries, resulting in a decrease in the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, which produce the symptoms of menopause.

Menopause symptoms include menstrual irregularities, hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disturbance, urinary symptoms, mood changes and joint pain among other things.

“Since menopausal symptoms occur as hormone levels fluctuate and drop, we hypothesized that women who experienced symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats – particularly frequent and severe symptoms – might have a lower risk of breast cancer due to decreased estrogen levels,” said senior author Christopher I. Li.

The researchers investigated 1,437 postmenopausal women of whom 988  had been diagnosed with breast cancer and the remaining 449 were not diagnosed .

The participants were surveyed about perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms.

The results showed the women with menopause symptoms had 40 to 60 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer than those did not have the symptoms.

The results did not change even when the researchers considered the other risk factors such as obesity and hormone replacement therapy in the analysis.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.