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Am J Epidemiol. 1998 Dec 1;148(11):1055-61.

Timing of menopause, reproductive years, and bone mineral density: a cross-sectional study of postmenopausal Japanese women.

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  • 1Graduate School of Medical Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Japan.


Age at menopause has been found to be associated positively with bone mineral density, and age at menarche has been found to be associated negatively with bone mineral density. However, there have been few studies on the relations of timing of menopause and length of the reproductive period with bone mineral density. The purpose of this study was to examine the relations of timing of menopause and reproductive years (calculated as age at menopause minus age at menarche) with mineral density of the second metacarpal bone in postmenopausal Japanese women. The study population consisted of 1,035 naturally menopausal women aged 40-70 years who were screened in 1996-1997. Using computed x-ray densitometry, the authors measured bone mineral density by analyzing radiographic films of the right second metacarpal bone. Using the women with early menopause (age < 49 years) as the reference group and adjusting for age, subjects with late menopause were at decreased risk for low bone mineral density (odds ratio (OR) = 0.69, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.49-0.97). After adjustment for additional covariates (grip strength, physical activity, body mass index, smoking, and calcium intake), the association was unchanged (OR = 0.70, 95% CI 0.50-0.99). Postmenopausal women with more reproductive years (> or = 40 years) were at decreased risk for low bone mineral density compared with those with fewer reproductive years, after adjustment for age (OR = 0.73, 95% CI 0.40-1.30) and potentially confounding factors (OR = 0.76, 95% CI 0.41-1.37); the p-value for trend was not statistically significant. In multiple linear regression analysis, early menopause and fewer reproductive years were independent predictors of low bone mineral density. In this study, postmenopausal Japanese women who had a late menopause and more reproductive years were at decreased risk for low bone mineral density, and may therefore be less prone to osteoporosis.

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