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Smoking lowers menopause age

Women who smoke have a higher risk of early natural menopause, a review of eleven studies involving about 50,000 women has found.

The meta-analysis, published in the February edition of Menopause journal, provides more evidence to suggest that smoking is a significant independent risk factor for early menopause.

Natural menopause usually occurs about age 50. One group of studies in the meta-analysis found smoking increased the risk of menopause occurring before this age by about 43 per cent. Another group of studies found smoking brought forward menopause by about one year.

Early natural menopause is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases, genital tract cancers and osteoporosis.

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Triglycerides predict stroke

Postmenopausal women have been urged to have their triglyceride levels measured by doctors following US research which found that high levels are the strongest risk factor for stroke in older women.

The study found that having elevated levels of triglycerides (blood fats) was more of a risk factor for ischaemic stroke, the most common type, than high levels of total or LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol.

Using data from a study in 90,000 postmenopausal women, researchers compared 972 postmenopausal women who had ischaemic stroke with 972 controls who had not had strokes.

Women with the highest levels were nearly twice as likely to have suffered a stroke as those with the lowest levels.

The research, which establishes elevated triglyceride levels as an independent risk factor for stroke, appeared online in Stroke in February.

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