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  • Earlier menopause for women with BRCA mutations

    by Margery Gass | Feb 08, 2013
    Have you been told that you have a mutation in the BRCA gene, which puts women at high risk of breast or ovarian cancer? If so, you may go through menopause earlier than most other women, and much earlier if you are a heavy smoker. Research the University of California, San Francisco, found that carriers of the mutation experience menopause at an average age of 50 instead of 53, which is more typical for US women. Women who had the abnormal gene and smoked more than 20 cigarettes a day began to go through menopause even earlier—at age 46. So if you have this mutation, you may want to think about completing your family earlier than you might otherwise have. Are you not sure whether you have the mutation? Usually, women who have it have a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer. If you do, you may want to get tested. Some women with these mutations choose surgery, such as hysterectomy or mastectomy to reduce their risk of these cancers. You can learn more about these mutations and about when to consider getting tested from the National Cancer Institute at www.cancer.gov.
    1 Comment
  • Early menopause link to endocrine disrupting chemicals

    by Margery Gass | Nov 30, 2012
    New research links endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) to an earlier menopause. EDCs are chemicals that can interfere with human hormones in the body. They include pesticides, plasticizers, and even natural chemicals found in plants.

    The research found that women exposed to two types of EDCs had an earlier menopause. Menopause was 2.5 years earlier with exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and 2.3 years earlier with exposure to phthalates. PCBs were banned in 1979 but can still be found in older products. Phthalates are found in many products including cosmetics.

    Exactly how EDCs change the age of menopause is not known so further research is needed. These findings were weak but suggested a trend that deserves further study.

    EDC exposure can have other effects. EDC exposed women had elevated breast cancer risk in another study. Increased exposure to certain chemicals, such as phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA), led to thyroid irregularities in women in one study. These chemicals are found in common containers like plastic bottles. Women exposed to high levels of flame retardants have been found to have reduced fertility. Flame retardants are used in many products — foam cushions in couches, carpet padding, clothing, electronics, etc. They can accumulate in fatty tissues, salmon, butter, cheese, ground beef, household dust, and waste water treatment plant runoff.

    How can you reduce risk of exposure?

    • Educate yourself
    • Eat organic food
    • Avoid pesticide use
    • Know where the fish you eat comes from and check with your state and local government about contamination in those waters
    • Avoid heating food in plastic containers or storing fatty food in plastic containers or wrapping
    • Support research and education about EDCs
    Go comment!

MenoPause Blog

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