NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Hot flashes and night sweats are some of the most troublesome symptoms women experience as they go through menopause. Yet some women don’t suffer hot flashes at all.

As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez explained, doctors may have figured out why.

More than 70 percent of women experience hot flashes and night sweats, and a number of factors have been linked to them including ethnicity, being overweight, smoking, anxiety, and depression.

But what’s the common thread in these risk factors? Turns out it may be genetics.

Like many women, Betty Glick has experienced hot flashes from menopause.

“The immediate thing is just feeling flushed with heat and for me, it’s normally from the neck up. I immediately start to sweat,” she said.

New research suggests genetics may determine which women suffer with common menopause symptoms. Researchers at UCLA looked at data from nearly 18,000 post menopausal women and found women with certain normal gene variants that code for brain cell receptors that regulate estrogen hormone release were more likely to have hot flashes.

“The first study ever done to look across the whole genome for hot flashes and night sweats,” Dr. Carolyn Crandall explained.

Researchers said knowing the genetics of hot flashes could lead to new, non-hormonal treatments to relive menopause symptoms.

“It will lead us to figuring out the biological mechanism for hot flashes. If we know the mechanism then maybe we can create some therapies,” Dr. Crandall said.

But genes are rarely the entire story and the researchers said they still have to figure out how environmental factors like diet and weight might interact with genetics to trigger menopausal symptoms.

Betty was on hormone replacement therapy for a few years, but stopped the treatment. She still suffers through flashes.

“It’s like so many things. You just learn how to cope you know,” she said.

She said there is one thing that makes her feel better — her fan. She makes sure she has it handy when she feels a flash coming on.

The genetic variations found in the study were similar in European-American, African-American, and Hispanic-American women.

Again, suggesting there’s some environmental triggers such as diet and weight that may account for why some ethnicities have more symptoms than others.


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