Posted on May 09, 2018, 2 a.m.
Menopause may be delayed by diets rich in fish and legumes, while diets rich in refined carbs such as rice and pasta may do the opposite and hasten it.
Final analysis involved over 14,000 participants, including 914 who went through menopause naturally between the age of 40 and 65, with the average being 51. Every additional portion of refined carbs was associated with reaching menopause 1.5 years earlier after taking account of factors. Each additional portion of legumes and oily fish was associated with delay of menopause by 3 or more years. Higher intake of zinc and B6 were also associated with later menopause.
Similar results were found with analysis of particular food groupings. Meat was associated with menopause onset almost a year earlier than vegetarians. Extra portions of savory snacks was also associated with earlier menopause by 2 years. Higher intake of fish was linked with later menopause of over 3 years, and legumes 1.5 years. Eating grapes and poultry among childless women was associated with later menopause.
Several environmental, genetic, and behavioural factors are thought to be involved in the timing of the onset of menopause, some of the research has implicated diet. Participants were enrolled from the UK Women’s Cohort Study which involved over 35,000 women between the ages of 35-69 years old to further explore this. Participants provided details on influential factors such as reproductive history, use of HRT, weight history, when they had gone through menopause, and physical activity levels, as well as questionnaires on food frequency and quantities. Over 217 foodstuffs were collated into groups according to uses.
Womens egg maturation and release are affected by reactive oxygen species, higher intakes of food containing antioxidants may counter this. Refined carbs boost risk of insulin resistance which can interfere with sex hormone activity and boost oestrogen levels increasing menstrual cycles and deplete egg supply faster. Vegetarians consume larger portions of antioxidants and fibre which are associated with low oestrogen levels which may alter menopause timing.
Women who experience menopause early are at increased risk of heart disease and osteoporosis, those who through it later are at increased risk of cancers such as ovarian, womb, and breast cancer.
It was noted that these are observational findings and can’t prove causality; questionnaires are subject to recall faulty; and the study sample was more affluent and health conscious than most which may have influenced findings. Going on to add that findings confirm diet may be associated with age of natural menopause.
Materials provided by BMJ.
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Yashvee Dunneram, Darren Charles Greenwood, Victoria J Burley, Janet E Cade. Dietary intake and age at natural menopause: results from the UK Women’s Cohort Study. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2018; DOI: 10.1136/jech-2017-209887