19 December 2014

Hot flashes linked to higher hip fracture risk

There may be a link between certain menopause symptoms and higher rates of hip fractures and weaker bones.

A new study suggests a possible link between certain menopause symptoms – hot flashes and night sweats – and higher rates of hip fractures and weaker bones.

Researchers suspect that more marked hormonal changes may explain a possible connection.

Read: What is menopause?

Hot flashes are common during menopause, affecting about 60 percent of women.

Higher risk of osteoporosis

The hormonal changes during menopause also affect women after menopause, since they then face a higher risk of weakened bones and osteoporosis.

"Our findings suggest women who exhibit moderate or severe menopausal symptoms are more likely to have issues with bone health than their peers," study co-author Dr. Carolyn Crandall, of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a news release from the Endocrine Society.

"This is the first large cohort study to examine the relationship between menopausal symptoms and bone health in menopausal women."

While the researchers found an association between some menopause symptoms and bone health, they did not prove that hot flashes and night sweats cause hip fractures.

The study analysed the medical records of more than 23 000 U.S. women aged 50 to 79 who were tracked for eight years, on average.

Compared to women with no menopausal symptoms, those with moderate or severe hot flashes were more likely to fracture a hip.

Read: What is osteoporosis?

Those with moderate to severe menopausal symptoms also had weaker bones in the neck and spine, as revealed by bone density tests.

"More research is needed to illuminate the connection between bone health and menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes," Crandall said.

Benefit from healthy lifestyle habits

"Improved understanding would help clinicians advise women on how to better prevent osteoporosis and other bone conditions. Women who have hot flashes and want to protect their bones may benefit from healthy lifestyle habits such as avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, exercising and getting sufficient calcium and vitamin D."

Read: Treating menopause

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Read More:

Treating osteoporosis
Exercise after menopause keeps women's minds in shape
Face your 'hunchback' fears

Image: Woman having a hot flash from Shutterstock.


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Healthy Bones

Tereza is the CEO of the National Osteoporosis Foundation and worked as a Nursing Sister in the field of Osteoporosis for 18 years prior to her appointment with the Foundation. She used to be the Educational Officer for the Foundation and co-wrote the patient brochure on Osteoporosis. Read more

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