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Factors Identified That May Raise Risk of Early Menopause

TUESDAY, Oct. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Certain factors have been found to be associated with a raised risk of early menopause, including having a chronic inflammatory disease or having one of two genes known to be linked to breast cancer, especially among those who smoke, according to two new studies.

The studies were slated for presentation Tuesday at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) in Orlando, Fla.

In one study, researchers examined data from the University of California, San Francisco Cancer Risk Registry on 931 white women in the United States and found that BRCA1 and BRCA2 carriers started menopause at a much earlier age than those without the breast cancer genes -- age 48 versus 53.

Heavy smoking (20 or more cigarettes a day) was associated with an even earlier onset of menopause in BRCA1/2 carriers, an average age of 45.5, the study revealed.

In another study, University of Pennsylvania researchers examined the medical records of more than 1.7 million U.S. women to determine whether early menopause or premature ovarian failure is more common in women with psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease or lupus.

The analysis showed that women with these inflammatory conditions are two to five times more likely than other women to reach menopause before age 45 or to lose ovarian function before age 40.

"For carriers of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes considering prophylactic oophorectomy [removal of their ovaries to prevent cancer] and for women facing treatment for cancer who may want to attempt fertility preservation procedures, these findings may provide a better idea of when their natural fertility might end and therefore the likelihood of success of any fertility preservation procedures they might undertake," Dr. Roger Lobo, ASRM president, said in a society news release.

Experts note that data and conclusions presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has more about menopause.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Society of Reproductive Medicine, news release, Oct. 17, 2011

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