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How might diet affect menopause onset age?

Tuesday 1st May 2018
A diet high in legumes and oily fish could help to delay the onset of the menopause, according to a new study. Image: Lisovskaya via iStock
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Women's diets could play a role in determining the age at which they begin to go through the menopause, according to new research.

A study carried out by scientists from the University of Leeds, which involved a total of 914 women, found that a diet high in carbohydrates may lead to women experiencing the menopause earlier than average. Meanwhile, a diet prevalent in oily fish, peas and beans could potentially delay the onset of natural menopause.

The average age at which a woman goes through the menopause is 51, but it was found that those who consumed more legumes, such as beans, chickpeas and lentils, began to experience menopausal symptoms one-and-a-half years later.

However, participants who consumed more refined carbs like rice and pasta tended to go through the menopause one-and-a-half years earlier than the average, at just 49 years of age.

Although the researchers did account for some other factors, such as weight and reproductive history, they weren't able to assess genetic factors, which are hugely influential in determining menopause onset.

They believe that their results may be due to legumes naturally containing a high level of antioxidants, while oily fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to stimulate the capacity of antioxidants in the body, therefore potentially delaying the onset of menopause.

Janet Cade, co-author of the study, commented: "A clear understanding of how diet affects the start of natural menopause will be very beneficial to those who may already be at risk or have a family history of certain complications related to menopause."

However, Professor Saffron Whitehead of St George's University of London, who is also a member of the Society for Endocrinology, said: "I am not yet convinced that diet alone can account for the age of the onset of the menopause. There are too many other factors involved."

Written by Martin Lambert

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