Recent reports indicate that hot flashes might actually be a good thing. According to researchers, women who suffer with hot flashes have a reduced chance of both breast cancer and heart attacks.

Researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA discovered women who had strong hot flashes, the kind that woke them up at night, had a 40% to 60% lower risk of developing breast cancer. Dr. Christopher I. Li, a breast cancer epidemiologist at Hutchinson Center’s Public Health Sciences Division and senior author of the study, stated that the protective effects of the hot flashes seem to increase with the number and severity of the menopausal symptoms.

The study is the first of its kind, and the results are available in the February issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention.

A recent study in the journal Menopause found that women who had hot flashes or night sweats at the onset of menopause may be at an 11% lower risk for stroke, heart disease, and death. Women who had these symptoms later in menopause were at a 29% higher risk of stroke and a 32% higher risk of a heart attack.

Researchers studied information from 60,000 post-menopausal women in the Women’s health Initiative Observational Study. Dr. Emily Szmuilowicz, co-author of the study from Northwestern Memorial Hospital, stated that the symptoms do not appear to have any correlation with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.