Previous research has suggested a possible increased risk of breast cancer in women who started menstruating early. They believe the greater lifetime exposure to estrogen could be related to an increased risk for breast cancer. Another study has reported an increased risk of adult onset diabetes in women who started menstruating early.
A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (December 2009) reports that women who started having their menstrual period before the age of 12 had a greater risk of heart disease. The researchers followed over 15,800 women between the ages of 40 and 79 for 13 years. They found that women who started menstruating before age 12 were 23% more likely to develop heart disease and 28% more likely to die from a heart attack or stroke. The reason for the increased risk is not known but may be partly due to an increased amount of body fat in women who start menstruating early?
The important message here is to start thinking about risk factors for diabetes and heart disease early, especially in young girls who are overweight and start menstruating early.
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