20 January 2020

Women who experience premature menopause are significantly more likely to develop multiple chronic conditions, according to a new study by The University of Queensland.

School of Public Health PhD student Dr Xiaolin Xu analysed data on more than 11 thousand women aged 45 to 50 in 1996 and tracked them until 2016, as part of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health.

“The study found premature menopause is linked to a higher chance of women developing individual chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, asthma and breast cancer,” Dr Xu said.

He said the research showed 71 per cent of women with premature menopause developed multiple chronic conditions, or multimorbidity, by the time they were 60 years old.

This compared to 55 per cent of women who experienced menopause at the age of 50 to 51.

The data also revealed 45 per cent of women with premature menopause developed multimorbidity during their 60s, compared with 40 per cent of women who experienced menopause at 50 to 51.

“We hope the findings encourage health professionals to consider comprehensive screening and risk assessments for multimorbidity in women experiencing early menopause,” he said.

“Women can make lifestyle changes to slow down the onset of multimorbidity like maintaining a healthy weight range, quitting smoking and doing regular exercise.”

UQ Professor Gita Mishra, senior author on the study, said the national research was the first of its kind in making a connection between premature menopause and multimorbidity in a large group of mid-aged women.

“The life expectancy of women from high-income countries such as Australia is more than 80 years old, meaning one third of a woman’s life comes after menopause,” Professor Mishra said.

“This is another reason why multimorbidity should be considered a clinical and public health priority for controlling and preventing chronic health conditions in women.

This study was published in the Human Reproduction journal (DOI:10.1093/humrep/dez259).

Media: Professor Gita Mishra, [email protected], +61 7 3365 2924; Faculty of Medicine Communications, [email protected], +61 7 3365 5118, +61 436 368 746.

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