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Why alcohol and menopause could be a dangerous mix

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Hot flashes. Night sweats. Sleep problems. Weight gain.

Menopause can seem like a roller coaster, with symptoms that can make life challenging. Could that glass of wine intensify menopausal symptoms?

Yes, according to experts.

Dr. Juliana Kling of the Mayo Clinic Women’s Health Center in Arizona said that alcohol use during menopause can worsen symptoms and increase a woman’s risk for serious health conditions.

Kling warned that for many women, alcohol and menopause can be a dangerous mix.

>> Hot flashes: Some of the biggest complaints of women during menopause are hot flashes and night sweats. About 80% of women have them, and 30% of women have severe symptoms.

Hot flashes are due to a disruption of the body’s thermoregulatory zone, and Kling said alcohol can sometimes exacerbate symptoms.

>> Sleep: Sleep problems are also commonly associated with menopause. Kling said for some people, alcohol can make it harder to get a good night’s sleep.

“While many people think a glass of wine might be nice to make them sleepy, it just disrupts your quality of sleep,” she said, and recommended that women cut back or eliminate alcohol before bedtime.

>> Health conditions: During menopausal years, the risk of certain health conditions increases; a few include heart disease, stroke and osteoporosis. Alcohol also can make it more challenging to maintain a healthy weight, which can add to the risk of some conditions.

“A lot of us don’t recognize the associations of alcohol and poor health outcomes like breast cancer risk, and alcohol is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer,” said Kling. “Also, conditions like colorectal cancer increase.”

>> Minimize risks: Kling said to limit alcohol intake to one drink per day.

“Now is the time to really lean into the healthy habits,” she said. In addition to limiting or eliminating alcohol, she recommends regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, and not smoking.

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