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Early Menopause May Raise the Chance of Dying from Cancer and Heart Disease

Finns who go through menopause before turning 40 have a higher risk of dying early, according to data presented at the 26th European Congress of Endocrinology.

However, experts point out that women who have not experienced a premature menopause are also affected by this increased mortality risk.

“This research confirms what we already know and believe in the gynecology profession,” said Dr. Vanessa Soviero, an OB/GYN from Northwell Health’s Katz Institute of Women’s Health who was not involved in the research.

Soviero emphasized the necessity for more in-depth study in the historically neglected field of women’s health. Although primary ovarian insufficiency (POI), often known as early menopause, affects only 1% of women, Soviero said other women can also benefit from this research.

Early menopause is a condition that affects both men and women, Soviero told Medical News Today. “Women who’ve had their ovaries removed at a young age also face these risks.”

A woman may require the removal of one or both ovaries for a variety of causes, such as endometriosis, noncancerous growths (cysts), or as a preventive measure due to their notably elevated risk of ovarian or breast cancer.

Specifics Regarding the Research on Early Menopause

Nearly 5,800 women who were diagnosed with spontaneous or medically induced POI between 1988 and 2017 were studied by researchers from the University of Oulu and Oulu University Hospital in Finland.

Results were contrasted with those of about 23,000 women without POI.

They found that women with POI are four times more likely to die from cancer of any kind and twice as likely to die from heart disease. However, their findings have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. Their odds of dying from any cause were also indicated as being twice as high.

For women with naturally occurring POI versus surgically induced POI, there was no discernible difference in their chance of dying.

Although earlier research has concentrated on the connection between an early menopause and a woman’s mortality risk, this study is the biggest of its kind. Menopause that has been medically induced is also a first.

As far as research on the relationship between early ovarian insufficiency and mortality risk goes, this is the largest study to date, according to a news release from principal author and University of Oulu PhD candidate Hilla Haapakoski.

Although earlier studies have highlighted the connection between menopause and heart health, independent of a woman’s age, menopause prior to age 40 carries a notably higher risk.

According to Soviero,“The risks are highest in women who go through menopause before 40, but every woman should consider taking hormones, even before entering menopause,”

“I encourage women to start [hormone replacement therapy] before going into menopause when you start developing symptoms of perimenopause,”  Soviero stated. “The earlier you start hormone therapy, the more you [receive] the cardiac, cognitive, and bone health benefits.”

The early menopause and hormone replacement treatment

“In our practice, we recommend birth control pills to anyone with POI or who’s had their ovaries removed because it reduces all of the risks associated with low estrogen,” Soviero said.

Women who received hormone replacement treatment for at least six months had a 50% lower risk of dying from cancer or other causes, according to research findings.

“Women can lower their risk with birth control, but many women think they don’t need birth control in menopause because they can’t get pregnant,” Soviero said. “Hormone therapy will reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke, but it will also reduce your risk of cognitive disorders, too, like dementia and Alzheimer’s, and osteoporosis and fractures.”

According to Soviero, she educates her patients to dispel myths around hormones, HRT, and birth control.

“Most people don’t understand the benefits of hormones, particularly estrogen,” Soviero stated. “And they’ve seen things on social media that aren’t accurate for most women. Estrogen and progesterone should both be considered.”

According to Soviero, estrogen preserves the health of your heart, brain, and bones after menopause. Your uterus is shielded by progesterone.

Women having a history of uterine cancer, breast cancer, or blood clotting issues should not seek hormone therapy.

According to Soviero, the advantages of hormone replacement treatment exceed the hazards, even though there are certain concerns involved.

The researchers stated that evaluating the long-term effects of hormone therapy is one of their next tasks.

According to Haapakoski, “Various health risks of women with premature ovarian insufficiency have not been well recognized and the use of [hormone replacement therapy] is often neglected,” “We hope to improve the health of these women by increasing awareness of the risks among healthcare professionals and the women through.”

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