Many Japanese women are reporting both fewer, and different, symptoms during menopause than many American and Canadian women, indicating that symptoms traditionally associated with the passage are not simply biological in nature, but are also influenced by culture, practices, nutrition and environment, according to a study in the July/August issue of Psychosomatic Medicine.
Dr. Margaret Lock, who headed the study, noted that “Current professional and popular knowledge about menopause in North America is dominated by an assumption that menopause heralds the beginning of a decline in health, a decline precipitated by lowered estrogen levels.” However, the study findings indicate evidence to the contrary counteract this common misconception.
Studies show that about 24 percent of Japanese women reported no symptoms during menopause, in contrast with the over 38 percent of American women who reported a wide range of occurrences, including hot flashes and night sweats. Researchers speculate that differences in the responses could be attributed to a difference in the diets of the two cultures. The majority of Japanese women exercise regularly, do not smoke, limit alcohol intake, and usually have a diet rich in fruits,vegetables and soy products.