Linking Your Genes to Menopause Onset

Onset of menopause predicted by gene location

(RxWiki News) Many women reach menopause suddenly, or so it seems to them. What if doctors could predict at exactly which age you’ll hit menopause, allowing you to prepare yourself for major hormonal changes?

Scientists from the Boston University Schools of Public Health and Medicine and other research institutions looked at the DNA of menopausal women and identified 13 new gene locations that help determine the onset of menopause.

This news means that, in the future, doctors may be able to accurately predict the onset of menopause.

"Talk to your doctor about treatment for menopause symptoms."

The findings shed light on the role of genes that regulate DNA repair and immune function and affect menopause and the process of aging, say lead author Dr. Kathryn Lunetta, professor of biostatistics at the BU School of Public Health, and other study authors in a press release.

Lunetta thinks that their work can also provide clues about genes and their role in early menopause and reduced fertility.

The researchers discovered 13 novel loci, which is the specific location of a gene or DNA sequence. Most of the loci are related to genes that play a role in DNA repair or autoimmune disease.

In the study, researchers studied more than 50,000 women of European descent who had gone through menopause between 40 years of age and 60.

Menopause, or the end of menstruation and fertility, is a natural part of the aging process. The physical and emotional symptoms of menopause can be difficult for a woman to manage, which is why many women could be interested in the age at which they’ll experience this change.

These same genes may also increase risk for health conditions related to age, says Dr. Joanne Murabito, an associate professor at the BU School of Medicine and director of the research clinic at the Framingham Heart study, in the statement.

The authors think that further research can identify more “common variants,” or biological determinants, that affect the age when a woman reaches menopause, and that many of the genes will be the same ones that were identified in their study.

This observational study was published online in the journal Nature Genetics.

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Review Date: 
January 24, 2012