You won’t believe how much postmenopausal hot flashes can lower a woman’s risk of breast cancer. Once you know how much, you’ll never hate your hot flashes ever again.

How much do postmenopausal hot flashes lower the risk of breast cancer?

Postmenopausal women who’ve had hot flashes may be 50 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than postmenopausal women who have not had hot flashes.

Other menopausal symptoms have also been linked to this finding about lowering the risk of breast cancer.

So maybe hot flashes aren’t something to despise after all. These findings come from research at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

The complete report is in the Feb. 2011 Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention.

It seems as though hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause have a protective effect against breast cancer, and the more frequent and severe these symptoms, the lower the risk of this disease.

In particular, women who had more intense hot flashes (night sweats), “had a particularly low risk of breast cancer,” states Christopher I. Li, MD, Ph.D, senior author of the study, and a breast cancer epidemiologist in the Hutchinson Center’s Public Health Sciences Division.

The study does not actually confirm that women who experience postmenopausal hot flashes will necessarily have a lower risk of breast cancer, but these results are exciting and more research is planned.

And if hot flashes are indeed linked to lower breast cancer risk, just what is the mechanism behind this? It’s the hormone, estrogen, mainly.

Dr. Li explains, “Since menopausal symptoms occur as hormone levels fluctuate and drop, we hypothesized that women who experienced symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats — particularly frequent and severe symptoms — might have a lower risk of breast cancer due to decreased estrogen levels.”

Among women who suffered hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms, there was a 40-60 percent reduction in the two most common forms of breast cancer.

This association remained unchanged even after variables, that increase breast cancer risk, were accounted for, like hormone replacement therapy and obesity.

The other menopausal symptoms that were scrutinized included heavy menstrual bleeding, irregular periods, anxiety, depression, insomnia and vaginal dryness.

So if you’ve been experiencing these symptoms, along with annoying hot flashes or drenching night sweats … and you’re at the age of pre-menopause or seem to be in the midst of menopause, maybe you should thank your lucky stars instead of cursing nature.

In the meantime, commitment to an exercise regimen that includes bouts of highly intense exercise, will do very well to lower the risk of breast cancer…and help relieve menopausal symptoms.

Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.