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May 3, 2006

Alternatives to Estrogen for Treatment of Hot FlashesAre They Effective and Safe?

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Medicine (Drs Tice and Grady) and Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics (Dr Grady), University of California, San Francisco; and San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center (Dr Grady), San Francisco, Calif.

JAMA. 2006;295(17):2076-2078. doi:10.1001/jama.295.17.2076

Hot flashes (or flushes) are the major symptom of menopause. Hot flashes are common, occurring in approximately 50% of women during the menopause transition,1 and approximately 20% of women who are affected request treatment.2 Women describe a hot flash as the sudden onset of a sensation of heat spreading over the face and chest and lasting a few minutes.2 The frequency and intensity of symptoms varies widely among women, with some experiencing an occasional sensation of warmth while others experience frequent episodes of intense heat and drenching sweat that disrupt daily activities and sleep. Hot flashes are more prevalent in black and Latin American women than in white women, but are less common in Chinese and Japanese women.3 Cigarette smoking seems to increase the likelihood of experiencing hot flashes,1 but most other potential risk factors such as obesity, exercise, and alcohol intake have not consistently been associated with hot flashes.4 Hot flashes resolve in most women after a few years, but in 10% to 15% of women, the hot flashes persist for decades or are even lifelong.5

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