Irregular menstrual cycle is associated with shorter life, says study – News

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More than 79,000 women have been followed for 24 years; longer cycles have also been associated with an increase in death before age 70


Irregular and long menstrual cycles in adolescence and adulthood are associated with an increased risk of death under the age of 70, with this relationship being slightly higher among smokers. That is the conclusion of a study researchers at Harvard University in the United States, published in BMJ (The British Medical Journal).

79,505 pre-menopausal women with no history of cardiovascular disease, cancer or diabetes who reported the regularity and duration of their menstrual cycles between the ages of 14 and 17 years, 18 and 22 years and 29 and 46 years were analyzed. During 24 years of follow-up, 1,975 premature deaths (before the age of 70) were documented, including 894 from cancer and 172 from cardiovascular diseases.

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Women who reported having irregular menstrual cycles frequently had a higher mortality rate than those who reported having regular cycles in the same age groups.

Women who said they had a normal cycle of 40 days or more at the ages of 18-22 years and 29-46 years were more likely to die prematurely than those who reported a normal cycle length of 26-31 days in the same age groups.

These relationships were stronger for deaths related to cardiovascular disease.

Regular menstrual cycles reflect the normal functioning of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, a vital sign of a woman’s general health. Irregular and long menstrual cycles, often attributed to a functional change in the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, are, however, common in women of reproductive age, as reported in the study.

The researchers say they were associated with an increased risk of noncommunicable diseases, including ovarian cancer, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and mental health problems, through mechanisms likely related to an altered hormonal environment, chronic inflammation and disorders metabolic.

The evidence that associates irregular or long menstrual cycles with mortality is, however, limited, which would have motivated the study.

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