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Wine linked to menopausal benefits
Healthy eating - plus the occasional tipple - can help women escape symptoms of the menopause, research has suggested.
Two US studies showed how middle-aged and older women could benefit from a slimming diet and "moderate" amounts of alcohol.
Losing weight as a result of cutting down on fat and eating large amounts of fruit and vegetables was found to reduce or even eliminate hot flushes and night sweats.
Separate research showed that a glass or two of wine or beer a day may lower the risk of developing brittle and easily broken bones. The bone-thinning disease osteoporosis is associated with hormonal changes after the menopause. Both studies were published in the journal Menopause.
The first involved 17,473 participants in the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), an investigation looking at ways to improve the health of post-menopausal women. Those who managed to slim were less troubled by hot flushes and night sweats after a year than women who maintained their weight.
Success came with losing 10 or more pounds, or 10% of body weight, after switching to a low-fat diet high in whole grains, fruit and vegetables. The women who lost weight were more likely to experience a reduction of symptoms or to eliminate them altogether.
Dr Bette Caan, a WHI scientist from the research arm of US health provider Kaiser Permanente, said: "Since most women tend to gain weight with age, weight loss or weight gain prevention may offer a viable strategy to help eliminate hot flashes (known as flushes in the UK) and night sweats associated with menopause."
Both symptoms are believed to be caused by a complex process that involves fluctuating levels of hormones regulating body temperature and sweat glands.
Researchers conducting the second study found evidence of the protective effect of moderate drinking in 40 post-menopausal women with no history of osteoporosis. All the women regularly had one or two alcoholic drinks a day. During a two week period when the women stopped drinking, their bone turnover increased.
High bone turnover, the process by which bone is removed and replaced, is a recognised risk factor for osteoporotic fractures. Less than a day after the women went back to drinking, their bone turnover rates returned to previous levels.