Older women with muscle loss are less likely to have menopause-related hot flashes, a new study finds.
The loss of muscle mass and function — sarcopenia — is one of the most significant changes that occurs with age, and older women are at increased risk due to sex hormone changes after menopause.
Other risk factors for sarcopenia include inactivity, lower protein intake, changes in growth hormone levels and increased inflammation.
There’s a known link between age-linked loss of muscle and menopause, but the connection between sarcopenia and various menopause symptoms such as hot flashes has been less clear.
In this study of nearly 300 Korean women ages 40 to 65, researchers led by Dr. Hyuntae Park, from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology ay Korea University’s College of Medicine in Seoul, investigated the association between body composition — including fat and muscle — and hot flashes and other menopause symptoms.
Park and colleagues found that hot flashes are less common in women with sarcopenia, according to the study published this month in Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society, or NAMS.
The new findings are “particularly important given the aging population and the links between sarcopenia in older women and decreased mobility, increased risk of falls and reduced health span, and quality of life,” noted Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director.
She spoke in a society news release.
Older women with muscle loss are at an increased risk of reduced mobility, diminished quality of life, heart disease and fall-related injuries.
Previous hot flash studies have focused on the relationship between body mass index — an estimate of body fat based on height and weight — and waist circumference, but they didn’t assess the percentage of fat versus muscle.
Hot flashes are one of the most common and troublesome menopause symptoms and are associated with several chronic disorders, including obesity, insulin resistance — a precursor to diabetes — osteoporosis and heart disease.
The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about hot flashes.