A new Mayo Clinic study, published online by the journal Menopause, found an association between caffeine intake and more bothersome hot flashes and night sweats in postmenopausal women. The study also showed an association between caffeine intake and fewer problems with mood, memory and concentration in perimenopausal women, possibly because caffeine is known to enhance arousal, mood and attention. The findings of this largest study to date on caffeine and menopausal symptoms are published on the Menopause website and will also be printed in a future issue of the journal.For the study, researchers conducted a survey using the Menopause Health Questionnaire, a comprehensive assessment of menopause-related health information that includes personal habits and ratings of menopausal symptom presence and severity. Questionnaires were completed by 2,507 consecutive women who presented with menopausal concerns at the Women’s Health Clinic at Mayo Clinic in Rochester between July 25, 2005, and July 25, 2011. Data from 1,806 women who met all inclusion criteria were analyzed. Menopausal symptom ratings were compared between caffeine users and nonusers.Approximately 85 percent of the U.S. population consumes some form of caffeine-containing beverage daily. Vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes and night sweats) are the most commonly reported menopausal symptoms, occurring in 79 percent of perimenopausal women and 65 percent of postmenopausal women. Although it has long been believed that caffeine intake exacerbates menopausal vasomotor symptoms, research has challenged this assumption, as caffeine has been both positively and negatively linked to hot flashes.”While these findings are preliminary, our study suggests that limiting caffeine intake may be useful for those postmenopausal women who have bothersome hot flashes and night sweats,” says Stephanie Faubion, M.D., director of the Women’s Health Clinic at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. “Menopause symptoms can be challenging but there are many management strategies to try.”Other strategies Dr. …Read more
Oct. 12, 2013 — Menopausal women suffer from half as many hot flashes after receiving a non-hormonal chronic pain treatment, according to a study presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY™ 2013 annual meeting. The nerve block treatment interrupts the area of the brain that regulates body temperature, reducing moderate-to-severe hot flashes and alleviating depression in menopausal women, breast cancer patients and women in surgical menopause.”Hot flashes affect more than 80 percent of menopausal women,” said David R. Walega, M.D., chief of the Division of Pain Medicine, and program director of the Multidisciplinary Pain Medicine Fellowship Department of Anesthesiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago. “This is the first effective, non-hormonal treatment for hot flashes, which for many women have a serious negative effect on their lives. This treatment will also help breast cancer patients who suffer from hot flashes as a side effect of their treatments or medication. Some breast cancer patients stop taking their medication (tamoxifen) because of hot flashes.”Hot flashes are a sudden feeling of heat or warmth starting in the face and extending to the neck and chest area. Some women also experience profuse sweating and a “reddening” or flush to their skin. Hot flashes can last anywhere from one to 10 minutes and vary in strength and frequency.This prospective, randomized, controlled study included 40 patients between 30 and 65 years old who experienced at least 25 hot flashes per week. Half of the participants received a stellate ganglion blockade (SGB) injection with a local anesthetic. …Read more
July 15, 2013 — A new study from neuroscientists at the Wayne State University School of Medicine provides the first novel insights into the neural origins of hot flashes in menopausal women in years. The study may inform and eventually lead to new treatments for those who experience the sudden but temporary episodes of body warmth, flushing and sweating.The paper, “Temporal Sequencing of Brain Activations During Naturally Occurring Thermoregulatory Events,” by Robert Freedman, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences, founder of the Behavioral Medicine Laboratory and a member at the C.S. Mott Center for Human Growth and Development, and his collaborator, Vaibhav Diwadkar, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences, appears in the June issue of Cerebral Cortex, an Oxford University Press journal.”The idea of understanding brain responses during thermoregulatory events has spawned many studies where thermal stimuli were applied to the skin. But hot flashes are unique because they are internally generated, so studying them presents unique challenges,” said Freedman, the study’s principal investigator. “Our participants had to lie in the MRI scanner while being heated between two body-size heating pads for up to two hours while we waited for the onset of a hot flash. They were heroic in this regard and the study could not have been conducted without their incredible level of cooperation.””Menopause and hot flashes are a significant women’s health issue of widespread general interest,” Diwadkar added. “However, understanding of the neural origins of hot flashes has remained poor. The question has rarely been assessed with in vivo functional neuroimaging. In part, this paucity of studies reflects the technical limitations of objectively identifying hot flashes while symptomatic women are being scanned with MRI. Nothing like this has been published because this is a very difficult study to do.”During the course of a single year, 20 healthy, symptomatic postmenopausal women ages 47 to 58 who reported six or more hot flashes a day were scanned at the School of Medicine’s Vaitkevicius Imaging Center, located in Detroit’s Harper University Hospital.The researchers collected skin conductance levels to identify the onset of flashes while the women were being scanned. …Read more
June 19, 2013 — Estrogen stimulates the production of the body’s own antibiotic and strengthens the cells in the urinary tract, according to a new study from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. The results, which are published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, show that estrogen supplements may help menopausal women to ward off recurrent urinary tract infections.Urinary tract infections are among the most common diseases, affecting over half of all women at some point in life and repeatedly in 25 percent of these. Menopausal women have an increased risk of recurrent urinary tract infections, which has been associated with low estrogen levels.Infecting bacteria first come in contact with the inside of the urinary bladder. The bladder lumen is covered with epithelial cells, acting as a fence protecting the vulnerable tissue as well as producing antimicrobial peptides — the body’s self-made antibiotic. These peptides act as rapid front line soldiers fighting infecting microorganisms. By the early action of the antimicrobial peptides, the number of bacteria can be reduced before they have a chance to multiply. In the postmenopausal woman, however, the epithelium is fragile and often damaged with occasional gaps between cells, which in turn affect the ability to resist infection.In the current study, the researchers treated post-menopausal women with estrogen for 14 days, and then analyzed cells excreted in the urine. They found that estrogen acts on the epithelium in a way that the gaps between the cells lining the bladder lumen are healed, i.e. estrogen is gluing them together. This makes it more difficult for bacteria to break this protecting shield and reach the underlying cells.”During menopause, women have low levels of estrogen, and therefore also low levels of antimicrobial peptides as well as a damaged lining of the lumen in the urinary tract,” says study leader Dr. …Read more
Oct. 31, 2012 — Clinical hypnosis can effectively reduce hot flashes and associated symptoms among postmenopausal women, according to a new study conducted by researchers at Baylor University’s Mind-Body Medicine Research Laboratory.
Hypnotic relaxation therapy reduced hot flashes by as much as 80 percent, and the findings also showed participants experienced improved quality of life and lessened anxiety and depression.
The mind-body therapy study of 187 women over a five-week period measured both physical symptoms of hot flashes and women’s self-reporting of flashes. The women received weekly sessions of hypnosis by clinically trained therapists, and they also practiced self-hypnosis using audio recordings and such visualizations as a snowy path or a cool mountain creek, according to the study, published online in Menopause: the Journal of The North American Menopause Society and funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health.
“This is the first study in which we compared both self-reporting and physiological monitoring — not just a change in tolerance or ability to cope, but the hot flashes themselves decreased,” said Gary Elkins, Ph.D., professor of psychology and neuroscience in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences and director of the Mind-Body Medicine Research Laboratory.
By the fourth session, hot flashes had decreased about 70 percent, and at a three-month follow-up, the decrease averaged 80 percent, he said. “Some women reported having nearly complete elimination of hot flashes.”
To be clinically significant, the decrease must be 50 percent or more, he said. Besides decreasing in frequency, the hot flashes also became milder.
“For women who want to be involved in their own therapy, this is very appealing,” Elkins said. “It also has the advantages of cost savings and few or no side effects. Over the long term, the intervention has the potential to reduce health care costs and provide a safe and effective choice for women during menopause.”
Other treatment options are hormones — estrogen or progestin — which are most effective with a range of 90 to 100 percent reduction in hot flashes, but associated with increased risk of breast cancer or heart disease; antidepressants, with a decrease in the range of 45 to 60 percent but with possible side effects such as dry mouth and decreased interest in sex; and herbal remedies, generally found to be of little more benefit than a placebo, Elkins said.
During the study, women wore skin monitors with electrodes. They pushed a response button when they experienced a flash, and the monitor also recorded physiological changes such as temperature.
“This is one of the largest studies for menopausal intervention that has been done, and certainly for mind-body intervention,” Elkins said.
“Our next steps are to determine if the intervention can be provided by audio and video recordings as well as the long-term cost benefits,” he said. “If it can be provided by audio recording, we could achieve a wide usage and potentially help millions of women. Studies also need to be done to see whether this could benefit the immune system and ward off disease.”
Research findings mirrored results of an earlier Baylor study using hypnosis to reduce hot flashes in breast cancer survivors.
Other researchers involved in the study were William Fisher and Aimee Johnson, both doctoral candidates of psychology at Baylor; Janet Carpenter, Ph.D., R.N., a professor in the department of nursing of the University of Indiana; and Timothy Keith, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Texas at Austin.Read more