Eating fish and legumes can slow down menopause - Scientists

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A new study from United Kingdom researchers has revealed that women's diets may play an influential role in determining when they start feeling the effects of the menopause.

Eating oily fish could help delay menopause by three years - while a diet rich in pasta could quicken its onset, research suggests.

The study showed those who go through the menopause earlier were more prone to developing osteoporosis and heart disease, while those who do so later than usual were more likely to develop ovarian, womb and breast cancers.

Janet Cade, professor of nutritional epidemiology and co-author of the study said: "The age at which menopause begins can have serious health implications for some women".

Lead author Yashvee Dunneram, said: 'This study has shown that there are some specific associations between food groups and nutrients with the onset of natural menopause. Through this method, researchers were able to assess the diets of women who had experienced menopause the onset of a natural menopause in the interim.

The researchers said each additional portion of oily fish and fresh legumes a woman ate per day was associated with a delay of menopause of 3.3 years.

Their findings were published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

More than 900, between the ages of 40 and 65, had experienced a natural start to the menopause in that time.

The study only found a link between diet and menopause timing, but didn't focus on what mechanisms would possibly enable a woman's eating habits to impact her menopause. The women answered questions regarding diet, weight history, reproductive history, exercise levels and using hormone replacement therapy.

Diets high in fresh legumes such as peas and beans - which contain antioxidants - saw women reach the menopause about a year later on average.

A higher intake of vitamin B6 and zinc were also linked with later menopause, and eating meat was associated with menopause arriving nearly a year later than a vegetarian diet.

The maturation of eggs and their release, says the team, are affected negatively by reactive oxygen species. Omega 3 fatty acids found in the fish are thought to stimulate antioxidant capacity in the body.

Prof Saffron Whitehead, emeritus professor of endocrinology at St George's University of London and Society for Endocrinology member, said: "It is an interesting approach to investigate the timing of the menopause but I am not yet convinced that diet alone can account for the age of the onset of the menopause". "A high level of circulating insulin could interfere with sex hormone activity and boost estrogen levels, both of which might increase the number of menstrual cycles and deplete egg supply faster, thus causing an earlier menopause".

Scientists have described how women can delay the arrival of menopause.

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