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Hot Flashes a Good Sign for Breast Cancer Fighters

Review on November 07, 2008

A study published last month indicates that hot flashes may actually be a good sign for women fighting breast cancer around the time of menopause. An October 2008 issue of the medical journal Lancet Oncology indicates that hot flashes may actually predict the effectiveness of chemotherapy in women with breast cancer.

The team of researchers who made this discovery did not intend to find such a correlation between hot flashes and chemotherapy success while conducting their studies on women with primary breast cancer who had been treated with either tamoxifen or anastrozole.

Study Findings: When Hot Flashes are Good

Hot flashes cancer

This study found that women who developed vasomotor symptoms-such as hot flashes, night sweats, and general sweating-while taking one of these two medications had a (16 percent) lower risk of having their breast cancer return, compared to women who did not develop menopausal symptoms like hot flashes or night sweats. Moreover, researchers found that women who experienced joint pain also had a lower risk of recurring cancer. In fact, a woman who experienced both hot flashes and joint pain reduced the risk of returning cancer by 47 percent.

While the researchers cannot explain with certainty why hot flashes and joint pain decrease the risk of breast cancer in this population of women, they suggest genetics and the body's drug processing mechanisms as possible factors for success.

Breast cancer treatments can also affect how a woman experiences other menopausal symptoms, in addition to hot flashes. Women with breast cancer are wise to speak with their health care professional about what to expect in terms of hot flashes, irregular periods, and other menopause symptoms.

This new information about hot flashes, however, appears to be a token of relief for those who are bravely battling breast cancer and all the subsequent symptoms that come with its treatment. To learn more about hot flashes treatments that are safe, natural and effective, please visit our page on hot flashes treatment.

  • Hervik, J and O Mjaland. "Acupuncture for the treatment of hot flashes in breast cancer patients, a randomized, controlled trial." Breast Cancer Research and Treatment. (Sept 2008), pp. 1-6.
  • Huang, Mary I., et al. "A randomized controlled pilot study of acupuncture for postmenopausal hot flashes: effect on nocturnal hot flashes and sleep quality." Fertility and Sterility. 86 (2006), pp 700-710.