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Flashy Variants

Researchers have uncovered genetic variants associated with whether or not a woman experiences hot flashes during menopause, Live Science reports. Some 70 percent of women experience hot flashes and night sweats, it notes.

Researchers led by the University of California, Los Angeles's Carolyn Crandall combined data from three genome-wide association studies of women between the ages of 50 years and 79 years old taking part in the Women's Health Initiative Study to search for variants linked to vasomotor symptoms like hot flashes or night sweats during menopause. As they report in the journal Menopause, they homed in on a number of SNPs in the tachykinin receptor 3 (TACR3) locus.

TACR3 encodes the NK3R receptor, which is a member of the tachykinin peptide family, and the researchers note that its association with hot flashes is biologically plausible. Live Science adds that it is expressed in the brain and has been linked to estrogen release.

"These associations were similar across European-American, African-American, and Hispanic-American women, and they persisted even after we accounted for other factors that might influence hot flashes," Crandall says in a statement. She adds that if researchers "can better identify what genetic variants are associated with hot flashes, this could lead to novel treatments to relieve them."