Women's Health

Women Who Smoke Increase Their Risk for Hot Flashes

Women Who Smoke Increase Their Risk for Hot Flashes

Key Takeaways

  • Smoking cigarettes can increase a woman's risk of experiencing hot flashes during menopause.
  • African-American women who smoke have a 56% higher risk for hot flashes.
  • White women who smoke double their likelihood of experiencing hot flashes.

According to a recent study, women who smoke frequently are prone to more hot flashes during menopause, compared to women who do not smoke at all. Earlier studies suggest that there is a link between smoking and early menopause, in addition to menopause encourages worse symptoms. A recent study that has been release was the first study conducted to observe the connection between smoking, genes, and hot flashes.

Smokers may have specific genes responsible for estrogen level metabolism, and susceptibility to environmental toxins. These individuals experience more hot flashes, according to researcher and OBGYN Samantha Butts, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. The findings of this study encourage smokers to quit the habit. One of the reasons why most women continue smoking is purely because quitting smoking is extremely difficult. 

In this study, researchers studied about 300 women for almost 10 years, as a part of a larger menopause study. Over the course of this observation, many women continued menstruating even after the study was complete, whereas other women reached menopause by the time the study was complete. To conduct an accurate study, blood samples and medical histories of the participants were collected. Researchers also questioned the participants regarding symptoms experienced during menopause, and their lifestyle.

Results from the study showed that women who smoked regularly and had one of the five variants of the gene linked to metabolism of estrogen and susceptibility to environmental toxins reported more hot flashes, compared to women without the gene variations. “This was more obvious in African-American women”, says Butts. African-American women had a chance of 84% for having hot flashes, when compared to non-smokers. White women who smoked had a 56% higher risk of having hot flashes.

White women double their likelihood for experiencing hot flashes compared to non-smokers, and the risk was 21% more in smokers if they had the specific gene variation. The frequency and severity of hot flashes increased with exposure to second hand smoke and other environmental pollutants.

A Cleveland OBGYN, Margery Gass, MD, and executive director of the North American Menopause Society, said that the message of the study is that all smokers are at a greater risk of developing hot flashes during menopause.