High carbohydrate diet could bring on earlier menopause in women

A new study suggests that a high carbohydrate diet could bring on earlier menopause in women.

WebMD high carbohydrate

The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health and entitled “Dietary intake and age at natural menopause: results from the UK Women’s Cohort Study,” surveyed the dietary habits of over 900 women in the United Kingdom (UK), aged 40–65 years, who had experienced natural menopause.


Natural menopause is defined as the permanent cessation of menstrual periods for at least 12 consecutive months.

Age at natural menopause is a matter of concern for women of reproductive age as both an early or late menopause may have implications for health outcomes. Women who go through the menopause early may have an increased risk of osteoporosis and heart disease. On the other hand, women who go through menopause late may have an increased risk of breast, womb, and ovarian cancers.

High carbohydrate diet

Women who ate more refined pasta and rice were observed to reach menopause 1.5 years earlier than the average age of women in the UK (51 years old). Refined carbohydrates boost the risk of insulin resistance, which can interfere with sex hormone activity and boost oestrogen levels, and might thereby increase the number of menstrual cycles leading to the egg supply running out faster.

Women who ate more oily fish and fresh legumes were observed to have delayed onset of natural menopause (approximately 3 years for each additional portion/day), possibly due to the antioxidant properties of these foods.

However although researchers considered other potentially influencing factors such as the women’s weights, reproductive history and use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), the researchers were unable to consider genetic factors, which can also greatly influence age of menopause. As a result, the study is merely observational and cannot definitively establish any causal relation between a high carbohydrate diet and age of menopause.

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