Women who are ex-smokers may have much less severe hot flashes during menopause, compared with women who still smoke, a recently published study has shown. Previous epidemiological studies had shown cigarette smoking to be associated with a raised risk of midlife hot flashes, but the effect of quitting smoking on that risk was unclear until now.

Researchers found that women in the study who had not smoked for a minimum of five years were 45% less likely to experience frequent or severe hot flashes than current smokers. Ex-smokers, however, were still more likely to have the symptoms than women who had never smoked.

Commented lead author Rebecca Smith, University of Illinois epidemiology researcher:

“While the effect was strongest if women quit at least five years before the onset of menopause, even women quitting later did have a better outcome than women who continued to smoke. I hope this encourages women to quit smoking”.

The study involved 761 women ages 45 to 54, who were followed for up to seven years. At the start of the study, 347 women reported experiencing hot flashes.

Only 39% of lifeftime non-smokers had hot flashes, compared with 52% of ex-smokers and 62% of current smokers. Roughly 47% of current smokers had moderate or severe hot flashes. Most of them were likely to have symptoms daily or weekly.

Tobacco smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is the leading cause of prevetable deaths in the US. It substantially increases risks of heart disease, stroke and lung cancer, and is considered responsible for contributing to other cancers.

Does quitting smoking decrease the risk of midlife hot flashes? A longitudinal analysis Smith, Rebecca L. et al. Maturitas DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.maturitas.2015.06.029

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