Menopausal night sweats are more common in women who smoke and are overweightLeading an unhealthy lifestyle puts women at higher risk of developing unpleasant menopausal symptoms
Australian study links specific lifestyle factors and menopausal symptoms for first timeWell-educated women least likely to suffer hot flushes
11:42 GMT, 17 April 2013
12:10 GMT, 17 April 2013
Women who are overweight and smoke are more likely to suffer menopausal night sweats, according to Australian research.
The study found that women who are overweight, smoke and consume high levels of alcohol are at an increased risk of unpleasant menopause symptoms, but for the first time they were able to link specific lifestyle factors to different menopausal symptoms.
In the UK, the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 52, although women can experience the menopause in their 30s or 40s.
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Common symptoms include hot flushes, night sweats, loss of libido, mood changes and insomnia.
A hot flush is a sudden feeling of heat in the upper body, which can start in the face, or chest before spreading. The face, neck and chest may start to sweat and become red and patchy.
There can also be a change in heart rate. It may become very rapid, irregular or stronger than usual.
Night sweats are hot flushes that occur at night and only last a few minutes. They are most common in the first year after your final period.
The University of Queensland’s School of Population Health analysed more than 10,000 Australian women aged between 45 and 50, and investigated their social, lifestyle and reproductive history.
They found that well-educated women were less likely to suffer with either night sweats or hot flushes.
However those who had gained weight, drank and smoked heavily or suffered with long-term reproductive problems did tend to suffer with the menopausal symptoms.
The study found that smoking increased the likelihood of night sweats
Dr Gerrie-Cor Herber-Gast, who led the study said: ‘One of the study's most interesting findings is women who were smokers or had diabetes were more likely to have night sweats, but were not at increased risk of hot flushes.’
Dr Herber-Gast added that while it is not fully understood why certain factors may influence specific symptoms, the study paved the way for more research into how smoking and being overweight made women more vulnerable to night sweats.
‘Further study is needed, but [increased incidence of night sweats] may be explained by a number of reasons, including differing perceptions of the intensity of night sweating by smokers and women with diabetes.
‘Women with diabetes may experience increased night sweats because of the low glucose levels during the night.’
Previous studies have shown that certain lifestyle factors that put women at a higher risk of menopausal symptoms in general, but very little research has been carried out on how specific lifestyle choices affect the likelihood of each symptom separately.
‘Determining the risk factors for these symptoms separately may help clarify their causes, help us identify who is at high risk of developing them and allow for early intervention to avoid or treat them.’