Published: Wed, May 02, 2018
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

What Women Eat May Play Role in Age of Menopause

What Women Eat May Play Role in Age of Menopause

They found that the average age that women hit menopause was 51 years old, and those whose diet was heavy with foods such as pasta and rice were more likely to experience menopause about 1.8 years earlier than the average woman. A diet rich in legumes (think peas and beans) also was associated with a later onset, though to a lesser degree than oily fish.

Prior research has shown that earlier menopause is associated with lower bone density, osteoporosis and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, while later menopause can be linked to a higher risk for breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers.

Speaking to HuffPost UK, study author Professor Janet Cade was keen to point out this does not mean menopause is delayed by 3.3 years each time you eat a portion of fish.

The researchers found that over a four-year follow-up period, 914 women experienced a natural menopause.

Analysis of their diet showed that high intakes of oily fish were associated with a delayed start of menopause by almost three years.

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Food findings The research was published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health and the women were asked what their typical diet contained.

The study drew on data from around 14,000 women in the United Kingdom and included a follow-up survey four years after the initial data was collected.

More than 900, between the ages of 40 and 65, had experienced a natural start to the menopause in that time.

The women provided information on potentially influential factors such as weight history, physical activity levels, and reproductive history.

Experts caution that women shouldn't rush to change their diets as the result of this particular study. "But there are fewer studies that look at the impact of diet".

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According to Medical News Today, types of oily fish include salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna, and sardines, among others, and they note that oily fish has the benefit of being rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which is good for your heart. But legumes contain antioxidants, which might counter these negative effects and delay the onset of menopause.

Researchers suggest that the release of eggs and maturation can be affected by "reactive oxygen species".

Prof Saffron Whitehead, emeritus professor of endocrinology at St George's University of London and Society for Endocrinology member, said: "It is an interesting approach to investigate the timing of the menopause but I am not yet convinced that diet alone can account for the age of the onset of the menopause". This can interfere with the activity of sex hormones and boosting oestrogen levels, leading to quicker depletion of egg supply, the researchers said. It is tempting to speculate that this provides a recipe for delaying menopause.

The study was observational - meaning it did not demonstrate that the foods caused the later menopause.

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