Three significant predictors of hot flash frequency were menstrual status (P = 0.006), loss of interest in sex (P = 0.013) and BMI change (P = 0.020). At any time point, increased BMI was associated with both higher hot flash frequency (P = 0.020) and hot flash interference (P = 0.002), while anxiety (P < 0.001) and loss of sexual desire (P = 0.038) were linked to higher hot flash interference.
The connection between loss of interest in sex and hot flashes was expected, according to the authors, because they are considered symptoms of menopause, with reduced estrogen as perhaps the common cause of both.
Six months after completing chemotherapy, premenopausal women reported significantly higher hot flash frequency than perimenopausal women (P = 0.041).
“The abrupt decline of estrogen due to chemotherapy may be the cause of HFS occurring more frequently in premenopausal women than in perimenopausal women,” the authors wrote. “Indeed, the abrupt decrease in estrogen after removing the ovaries and fallopian tubes results in more severe climacteric symptoms than in natural menopause.”
Weight control and stress management programs are two strategies that may help breast cancer survivors cope with hot flashes caused by cancer treatment.