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Maturitas. 2013 Jul;75(3):246-52. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2013.04.003. Epub 2013 May 1.

Age at natural menopause in relation to all-cause and cause-specific mortality in a follow-up study of US black women.

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Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, United States.



Early age at natural menopause has been associated with increased all-cause mortality in several studies, although the literature is not consistent. This relation has not been examined among African American women.


Data were from the Black Women's Health Study, a follow-up study of African-American women enrolled in 1995. Among 11,212 women who were naturally menopausal at entry to the study or during follow-up through 2008, we assessed the relation of age at natural menopause to all-cause and cause-specific mortality. At baseline and biennially, participants reported on reproductive and medical history, including gynecologic surgeries and exogenous hormone use. Mortality data were obtained from the National Death Index. Multivariable Cox proportional hazard models were used to estimate mortality rate ratios (MRR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for categories of age at menopause.


Of 692 deaths identified during 91,829 person years of follow-up, 261 were due to cancer, 199 to cardiovascular diseases and 232 to other causes. Natural menopause before age 40 was associated with increased all-cause mortality (MRR=1.34, 95% CI 0.96-1.84, relative to menopause at 50-54 years; P-trend=0.04) and with the subcategories of death considered - cancer, cardiovascular disease, and all other causes. The associations were present among never and ever users of postmenopausal female hormones and among never and ever smokers.


In this large prospective cohort of African-American women, natural menopause before age 40 was associated with a higher rate of all-cause and cause-specific mortality. These findings provide support for the theory that natural menopause before age 40 may be a marker of accelerated somatic aging.

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