Wednesday Bubble: I’d walk a mile

Posted by on Jan 28, 2009 in hot flash, HRT | 0 comments

Fact or fiction? I’ve written previously about the link between cigarette smoking and hot flashes. In fact, the association consistently arises in many of the studies I’ve run across. When I first posted about this, it seemed to push a lot of buttons, primarily because many of my contemporaries, myself included, smoked at one point in our lives.

Hence, I was intrigued when I found this study in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology discussing the underlying cause of the association between cigarette smoking and hot flashes.

In the study, perimenopausal women who were either experiencing or not experiencing hot flashes were asked to complete a questionnaire and provide a blood sample so that researchers could measure their hormones.

The results showed that women who were current smokers had significantly higher levels of androstenedione (a precursor to sex hormones)  and higher ratios of androgens to estrogens than women who never smoked.  Additionally, current smokers had significantly lower levels of progesterone than never smokers.

Nevertheless, while both former and current smokers had increased odds of experiencing hot flashes (1.4 times greater for former and 2.4 times greater for current) than never smokers, this link was not altered or influenced in women who were also taking hormones.

Researchers have long believed that factors that influence estrogen levels, such as a higher body mass index (which increases them) or cigarette smoking (which decreases them) protect against or lead to vasomotor symptoms, respectively. Yet, in this particular study, hormone changes did not weaken the effect of smoking on hot flashes.

These results suggest that the effect of cigarette smoking on hot flashes, while very real and relevant, is not influenced by hormones.

Unanswered questions.  Undoubtedly the bottom line is to stop smoking if you continue to do so, not only for heart and lung health, but also, to help avoid those troublesome hot flashes.

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