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Dietary intake and age at natural menopause: results from the UK Women’s Cohort Study
  1. Yashvee Dunneram1,
  2. Darren Charles Greenwood2,
  3. Victoria J Burley1,
  4. Janet E Cade1
  1. 1 Nutritional Epidemiology Group, School of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  2. 2 Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  1. Correspondence to Miss Yashvee Dunneram, Nutritional Epidemiology Group, School of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK; fsyd{at}


Background 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.

Methods Study participants were women aged 40–65 years who had experienced a natural menopause from the UK Women’s Cohort Study between baseline and first follow-up. Natural menopause was defined as the permanent cessation of menstrual periods for at least 12 consecutive months. A food frequency questionnaire was used to estimate diet at baseline. Reproductive history of participants was also recorded. Regression modelling, adjusting for confounders, was used to assess associations between diet and age at natural menopause.

Results During the 4-year follow-up period, 914 women experienced a natural menopause. A high intake of oily fish and fresh legumes were associated with delayed onset of natural menopause by 3.3 years per portion/day (99% CI 0.8 to 5.8) and 0.9 years per portion/day (99% CI 0.0 to 1.8), respectively. Refined pasta and rice was associated with earlier menopause (per portion/day: −1.5 years, 99% CI −2.8 to −0.2). A higher intake of vitamin B6 (per mg/day: 0.6 years, 99% CI 0.1 to 1.2) and zinc (per mg/day: 0.3 years, 99% CI −0.0 to 0.6) was also associated with later age at menopause. Stratification by age at baseline led to attenuated results.

Conclusion Our results suggest that some food groups (oily fish, fresh legumes, refined pasta and rice) and specific nutrients are individually predictive of age at natural menopause.

  • natural menopause
  • diet
  • food groups
  • nutrients

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  • Contributors YD did the data analysis and wrote the manuscript. All authors were involved in the study design, interpretation of findings, and editing and approving the final draft.

  • Funding YD is in receipt of a scholarship from the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission, UK. Janet Cade was funded by the UK Medical Research Council grant no: MR/L02019X/1.

  • Disclaimer The funders had no role in design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis and interpretation of the data; preparation, review and approval of the manuscript; or the decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

  • Competing interests JEC is a director of the University of Leeds spin out company Dietary Assessment.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval The National Research Ethics Committee for Yorkshire and the Humber, Leeds East.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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