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Underweight women at greater risk of early menopause

28 Octobre 2017

Young, underweight women are at greater risk of early menopause than their normal weight or overweight peers, according to a 22-year study including data on nearly 80,000 women.

The study found that the women who were underweight at any age - with BMI under 18.5 kg/m2 - had a 30% increased risk of early menopause compared to slim or normal weight women (BMI of 18.5 to 22.4 kg/m2).

Women who had a BMI of less than 18.5 kg/m2 at the age of 35 had a 59 per cent increased risk.

Overweight women with BMIs between 25-29.9 kg/m2 had a 21-30 per cent lower risk of early menopause compared to normal weight women.

Of the almost 80,000 women included in the study, 2,804 said they went through natural menopause before age 45.

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Early menopause caused a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, osteoporosis and it can also cause premature death.

"Our findings suggest that being underweight may have an impact on the timing of menopause - experienced by up to 10 per cent of women", Szegda noted. Underweight women may, therefore, want to raise the issue of potential implications with their doctor, suggest the authors. 50% probability was increased in those whose BMI at age 18 was below 17.5 kg/m2.

Underweight women who reported "severe weight cycling", losing 20 pounds or more three times or more between the ages of 18 and 30, had a 2.4-fold increased risk of early menopause, the authors report. The women provided information on their medical history and health-related behaviours such as smoking and exercise at the time of joining the study, and then they updated the information by means of questionnaires every two years thereafter. The researchers recorded various factors like their Body Mass index which is also known as BMI, their weight distribution, weight changing during that period and age of menopause.

K L Szegda et al, Adult adiposity and risk of early menopause, Human Reproduction (2017).

Underweight women at greater risk of early menopause