I’ve just found a remarkable study on how female chocolate cravings vary throughout the hormone cycle and drop off after menopause. While the cravings are not solely explained by hormone changes, some of the effect does seem to be linked.
Perimenstrual Chocolate Craving: What Happens after Menopause?
Appetite. 2009 Jul 9. [Epub ahead of print]
Hormes JM, Rozin P.
About half of American women crave chocolate, and approximately half of the cravers crave it specifically around the onset of menstruation. This study examines whether the primary cause of this “perimenstrual” craving is a direct effect of hormonal changes around the perimenstrum, or rather if the craving is a general response in some individuals to stress or other notable events. Insofar as there is a direct hormonal effect, one would predict a substantial decrease of 38% in total chocolate craving in women post-menopause, corresponding to the proportion of women pre-menopause who report craving chocolate exclusively perimenstrually. Based on a survey of pre- and postmenopausal alumnae of the same University, we report a significant but small decrease in prevalence of chocolate cravings post-menopause. The decrease is only 13.4% and thereby much smaller than a 38% drop predicted by a purely hormonal explanation, suggesting that female reproductive hormones are not the principal cause of perimenstrual chocolate craving.
Last time I posted something about the menstrual cycle, with reference to the effect on race bias, the post attracted some remarkably acerbic comments.
The comment on racism being a “typical British trait” was pure comedy gold, but one asked the question “Why are hormone fluctuations in men not studied as closely or publicized as widely?”.
I did have a look, but as far as I know, men don’t have hormone cycles. If you know different, do let us know as I’d love to know if there is any good evidence for them.
However, the point was that these studies often focus on stereotypes of female behaviour. So this post is offered as food for thought.
Link to PubMed entry for study.