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Early menopause may occur in women with BRCA gene, new study finds
Date:1/28/2013

hose without the mutations, according to the National Cancer Institute.

The new study was designed to determine whether women with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation have an earlier onset of menopause compared with unaffected women.

The researchers looked at nearly 400 female carriers of mutations in the BRCA gene in northern California and compared their onset of menopause to that of 765 women in the same geographic area without the mutation. Most of the women in the study were white because almost all of the BRCA1/2 carriers within the UCSF cancer risk registry are white.

The scientists found that women with the harmful mutation experienced menopause at a significantly younger age 50 years -- compared to age 53 for the other midlife women.

Heavy smokers (more than 20 cigarettes a day) with the abnormal gene had an even earlier onset of menopause -- 46 years. By comparison, only seven percent of white women in northern California had undergone menopause by that age, said the authors. Smoking has been shown to alter menstrual cycles and estrogen status, among other impacts.

The authors point out that while their study shows a possible increased risk of infertility for the mutation carriers, further study is needed. They also said that data regarding the age of natural menopause is limited because most women with the mutation are recommended to undergo risk-reducing surgery after they complete childbearing.

"Women with the mutation are faced with challenges in reproductive choices,'' said study co-author Lee-may Chen, MD, a professor in the UCSF Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Services. "These data may help women understand that their childbearing years may be even more limited by earlier menopause, so that they can make decisions about their reproductive choices and cancer risk-reducing surgery.''


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Contact: Elizabeth Fernandez
elizabeth.fernandez@ucsf.edu
415-502-6397
University of California - San Francisco
Source:Eurekalert  

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