Underweight? You May Risk Early Menopause
Women who are underweight and those who were underweight as teens or young adults are at higher risk of experiencing early menopause than normal weight or lean women, according to a study involving nearly 80,000 women. Early menopause is classified as natural menopause before age 45. Results of the study, which were published in Human Reproduction, also suggest that women who lose 20 pounds or more at least three times between the ages of 18 and 30 have a higher early menopause risk as well.
For the study, researchers evaluated body mass index (BMI), weight distribution and change, and timing of menopause in 78,759 premenopausal women involved in the Nurses' Health Study II starting in 1989. Study participants provided updated information about medical history and health-related behaviors like smoking and physical activity levels every two years until 2011.
Women who were underweight at any age – indicated by a BMI of less than 18.5 – had a 30 percent higher risk of early menopause; women who were underweight at 18 had a 50 percent higher risk; and those who were underweight at 35 had a 59 percent higher risk than women with a normal BMI. Women who were overweight (BMI between 25 and 29.9) had a 21 to 30 percent lower risk of early menopause compared to normal weight women.