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Refined carbs associated with earlier menopause

Tuesday May 1st, 2018

Women who eat a diet high in refined white pasta and rice face an increased risk of early menopause, British researchers reported last night.

In the first observational study in the UK to examine the relationship between diet and the start of the menopause, researchers from the University of Leeds also found there was an association between a diet high in oily fish and fresh legumes = peas, lentils and beans = with a later onset of the menopause.

Researchers used data from more than 14,150 women living in the UK. They completed a detailed diet questionnaire and a survey on reproductive history and health. When a follow-up survey and questionnaire were conducted four years later, researchers assessed the diets of the women who had experienced the onset of a natural menopause in the interim.

Analysis showed that high intakes of oily fish were associated with a delayed start to menopause by nearly three years. Higher intakes of vitamin B6 and zinc (per mg/day) were also associated with later menopause.

A diet that included lots of refined pasta and rice showed menopause was more likely to occur 18 months earlier than average.

They also found that eating meat was associated with menopause arriving almost a year later than a vegetarian diet.

Study co-author, Janet Cade, professor of nutritional epidemiology and public health at the School of Food Science and Nutrition at Leeds, said: "The age at which menopause begins can have serious health implications for some women.

"A clear understanding of how diet affects the start of natural menopause will be very beneficial to those who may already be at risk or have a family history of certain complications related to menopause."

Study lead author, Yashvee Dunneram, a postdoctoral researcher at the School of Food Science and Nutrition added: "There are a number of causes that have been considered for the relationship between age and start of menopause, such as genetic factors or behavioural and environmental exposures. But there are fewer studies that look at the impact of diet.

"This study is the first to investigate the links between individual nutrients and a wide variety of food groups and age at natural menopause in a large cohort of British women. But further studies are needed to improve understanding on how this may impact health and wellbeing."

Previous studies have suggested that earlier onset of menopause is associated with lower bone density, osteoporosis and increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, while later menopause is associated with a higher risk for breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers.

Dunneram Y, Greenwood D, Burley Vet al. Dietary intake and age at natural menopause: results from the UK Women's Cohort Study. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 30 April 2018; doi: 10.1136/jech-2017-209887

Tags: Diet & Food | UK News | Women's Health & Gynaecology

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