Diet may play a role in menopause onset, according to a British study inBMJ that analyzed data from 914 women who had been menstruating at baseline and went through natural menopause (defined as 12 or more consecutive months without a period) over the four-year follow-up.
Among the findings: For every additional portion of fatty fish or legumes consumed daily, women reached menopause 3.3 years and 0.9 years later, respectively. Refined pasta and rice, on the other hand, were associated with earlier menopause (by 1.5 years). The researchers controlled for known and potential confounders including weight, calorie intake, physical activity, age at menarche, smoking, alcohol use, age at menarche, pregnancy history, and socioeconomics.
Earlier menopause has been linked to several health outcomes, including lower bone density, depression, and increased cardiovascular risk, though later menopause may increase a woman’s risk of breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer. Having a better idea of when a woman will go through menopause—and thus of her potential health risks—may help in making more-informed lifestyle and medical screening decisions.
Also see Perimenopause: A Time for Change.