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Vasomotor symptoms among Japanese-American and European-American women living in Hilo, Hawaii

Sievert, Lynnette Leidy PhD1; Morrison, Lynn PhD2; Brown, Daniel E. PhD2; Reza, Angela M. BA2

doi: 10.1097/01.gme.0000233496.13088.24

Objective: The Hilo Women's Health Survey was designed and administered to gather baseline data on women's health in Hilo, HI. This randomized, cross-sectional study allowed for a focus on ethnic differences in symptom reporting. The results presented here focus on hot flash and night sweat experience among Japanese-American and European-American women.

Design: Survey packets were mailed to street addresses associated with parcel numbers pulled randomly from Hilo tax maps. Of the 6,401 survey packets delivered to households, 1,824 questionnaires were completed and returned. The results reported here are based on 869 women aged 40 to 60, of whom 249 described themselves to be 100% Japanese and 203 described themselves to be 100% European-American. Logistic regression analyses were used to examine whether the relationship between ethnicity and vasomotor symptoms persisted after controlling for other variables.

Results: European-American participants were more likely to have ever experienced a hot flash as compared with Japanese-American participants (72% vs 53%, P < 0.01). During the 2 weeks before the survey, European-American participants were more likely to have experienced hot flashes (P < 0.05) and night sweats (P < 0.01). In logistic regression analyses, after controlling for age, body mass index, menopause status, level of education, financial comfort, smoking habits, alcohol intake, exercise, use of hormone therapy, and soy intake, European-American women were still significantly more likely to have experienced hot flashes (odds ratio = 1.858) and night sweats (odds ratio = 2.672).

Conclusions: The results, based on self-reporting of menopausal symptoms, indicate that Japanese-American women report fewer hot flashes and night sweats than European-American women. Japanese-American women reported a higher intake of soy, but soy intake was not associated with fewer vasomotor symptoms.

In Hilo, Hawaii, European-Americans reported significantly more hot flashes and night sweats compared with Japanese Americans. This difference could not be explained by differences in the consumption of soy.

©2007The North American Menopause Society