A difficult menopause could age a woman by two years, increasing her risk of early disease and death, a study has indicated.
The research, involving more than 2000 women, found that those who suffered from insomnia during the menopause aged far more quickly than those who did not. Disrupted sleep is one of the most common side effects of the menopause, often caused by night sweats.
Two studies by the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) examined the link between hormonal changes in the body and the biological age of cells in blood, saliva and skin.
One study of more than 3 000 women found that an early menopause meant a woman aged more quickly. If a woman experienced a menopause at 42, eight years later her body would be a year older than a 50-year-old woman reaching the menopause.
A second UCLA study of more than 2 000 post-menopause women found that those who had suffered badly from insomnia were nearly two years older biologically than women of the same chronological age who had not suffered sleep disruption.
Researchers said the findings, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Biological Psychiatry, were significant because cellular ageing could increase the risk of disease, with cancer, dementia and many other conditions linked to age.
Prof Steve Horvath, of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, said: “For decades, scientists have disagreed over whether menopause causes ageing or ageing causes menopause.
“Our study is the first to demonstrate that menopause makes you age faster.”
Prof Judith Carroll, a psychiatrist at UCLA, said that not getting restorative sleep “may influence the rate at which our biological clock ticks”. – The Daily Telegraph