Lifestyle affects when women go through menopause as smokers have the change two years early
10:49 GMT, 23 April 2012
Incentive to quit: Smoking was linked with having the menopause two years earlier than average
Drinking, smoking and carrying extra weight can all influence when a woman goes through the menopause, suggests a new study.
The lifestyle factors were all linked to when women stopped having periods, according to research from the Institute of Cancer Research in the UK.
Smoking made the largest impact with smokers experiencing the change an average two years earlier that those who didn't have the harmful habit.
However, weight had the opposite effect, according to study leader Dr Danielle Morris.
She found that women who were considered obese experienced menopausal symptoms on year later than normal-weight women, and suggested this could be due to the effect fat can have on sex hormones.
Women also underwent
the menopause later if they drank more than two drinks a day between the ages of 25 and 49, did regular strenuous exercise between the ages
of 30 and 49, or were vegetarian. However, these factors influenced the age of menopause by less than one year.
The findings are important because a later menopausal age is a risk factor for several diseases such as breast cancer, reported MyHealthNewsDaily.
Dr Morris said the study 'suggests the importance of lifestyle factors in determining the age at which a woman undergoes menopause.'
She said more research would be needed to see if reducing alcohol consumption or taking more exercise could alter menopause.
The study, which was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, used data from just over 50,000 women taking part in the Breakthrough Generations Study in the UK.
The researchers analysed results from women aged between 40 and 98, who had all filled in a questionnaire about their weight, diet, exercise habits and if and when they had gone through the menopause.
The menopause is the end of egg production and caused by falling levels of the female sex hormone oestrogen. It affects most women in their late forties and early fifties and is marked by irregular periods before menstruation stops altogether.
The hormonal upheaval causes both physical and emotion symptoms including hot flushes, night sweat and mood swings.