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Atherosclerosis. 2000 Mar;149(1):163-8.

Increased plasma homocysteine after menopause.

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Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Erasmus University Medical School, P.O. Box 1738, 3000 DR, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Besides genetic defects in the enzymes involved in homocysteine metabolism and nutritional deficiencies in vitamin cofactors, sex steroid hormones may modulate plasma homocysteine levels. The post-menopausal state has been found to be associated with higher plasma homocysteine levels, but data are inconsistent and studies published so far did not adjust for age, which is an important confounding factor in studying the effect of menopause. In the present study total plasma homocysteine levels were measured in a meticulously selected population in which the contrast in estrogen status between pre- and postmenopausal women of the same age was maximized. The study comprised 93 premenopausal and 93 postmenopausal women of similar age (range 43-55 years). Women were selected from respondents to a mailed questionnaire on menopause, which was sent to all women aged 40-60 years in the Dutch town of Zoetermeer (n = 12675). Postmenopausal women who were at least three years after menopause or whose menses had stopped naturally before age 48 were age-matched with premenopausal women with regular menses and without menopausal complaints. Plasma homocysteine levels in the fasting state were related to menopausal status; the age-adjusted geometric mean was 10.7 micromol/l in premenopausal and 11.5 micromol/l in postmenopausal women (difference of 7%, 95% confidence interval 0.3-14%, P = 0.04). Additional adjustment for plasma creatinine, body mass index, smoking habit (yes, no) and alcohol intake did not influence this difference. The results of this population-based study indicate that plasma homocysteine is affected by menopause.

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