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Does exposure to common PFAS chemicals contribute to an earlier age for menopause? A recent University of Michigan study found an association between blood levels of PFAS (per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in women and age at menopause. Women with the highest levels of PFAS in their blood had menopause 2 years earlier than those with lower levels.

PFAS are commonly known as "forever chemicals" because they persist in the environment and in humans. These chemicals have been widely used in many industrial and consumer products, such as non-stick cookware and food packaging, including microwave popcorn bags. They are also endocrine (hormone) disruptors and are thought to have an effect on ovarian aging.

What you can do: Don't microwave food, including popcorn, in the packaging it came in. Use microwave safe dishes instead.  Also, avoid nonstick cookware, and instead use plain stainless steel cookware.

From Science Daily: PFAS exposure may cause early menopause in women

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) exposure may cause menopause to occur two years earlier in women, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.  ...continue reading "Common PFAS Chemical Exposure and Age At Menopause"

Once again "conventional medical wisdom" is shown to be wrong. My big question - why has it taken so long to find out what is NORMAL for women?  From NY Times:

Up to 14 Years of Hot Flashes Found in Menopause Study

Conventional wisdom has it that hot flashes, which afflict up to 80 percent of middle-aged women, usually persist for just a few years. But hot flashes can continue for as long as 14 years, and the earlier they begin the longer a woman is likely to suffer, a study published on Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine found.

In a racially, ethnically and geographically diverse group of 1,449 women with frequent hot flashes or night sweats — the largest study to date — the median length of time women endured symptoms was 7.4 years. So while half of the women were affected for less than that time, half had symptoms longer — some for 14 years, researchers reported.

Over all, black and Hispanic women experienced hot flashes for significantly longer periods than white or Asian women. And in a particularly unfair hormonal twist, the researchers found that the earlier hot flashes started, the longer they were likely to continue. Among women who got hot flashes before they stopped menstruating, the hot flashes were likely to continue for years after menopause, longer than for women whose symptoms began only when their periods had stopped.

In this study, only a fifth of cases started after menopause. One in eight women began getting hot flashes while still having regular periods. For two-thirds of women, they began in perimenopause, when periods play hide and seek but have not completely disappeared.

In numerical terms, women who started getting hot flashes when they were still having regular periods or were in early perimenopause experienced symptoms for a median of 11.8 years. About nine of those years occurred after menopause, nearly three times the median of 3.4 years for women whose hot flashes did not start until their periods stopped. Hot flashes, which can seize women many times a day and night — slathering them in sweat, flushing their faces — are linked to drops in estrogen and appear to be regulated by the hypothalamus in the brain.

Researchers found significant differences between ethnic groups. African-Americans reported the longest-lasting symptoms, continuing for a median of 10.1 years — twice the median duration of Asian women’s symptoms. The median for Hispanic women was 8.9 years; for non-Hispanic whites, 6.5 years. Reasons for ethnic differences are unclear. “It could be genetic, diet, reproductive factors, how many children women have,” Dr. Avis said.The study also found that women with longer-lasting symptoms tended to have less education, greater perceived stress, and more depression and anxiety.

Think about all the plastics we use, and all the chemicals we are exposed to. Read labels on personal care products and try to avoid: phthalates, parabens, BPA, triclosan, fragrances. If possible, use glass containers to store and microwave food. Avoid unnecessary pesticides, for example on lawns, and consider organic lawn care and gardening.  From Science Daily:

Earlier menopause linked to everyday chemical exposures

Women whose bodies have high levels of chemicals found in plastics, personal-care products, common household items and the environment experience menopause two to four years earlier than women with lower levels of these chemicals, according to a new study at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The researchers looked at levels in blood and urine of 111 chemicals that are suspected of interfering with the natural production and distribution of hormones in the body. While several smaller studies have examined the link between so-called endocrine-disrupting chemicals and menopause, the new research is the first to broadly explore the association between menopause and individual chemicals on a large scale, using a nationally representative sample of patients across the United States.

“Chemicals linked to earlier menopause may lead to an early decline in ovarian function, and our results suggest we as a society should be concerned,” said senior author Amber Cooper, MD, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology. A decline in ovarian function not only can adversely affect fertility but also can lead to earlier development of heart disease, osteoporosis and other health problems. Other problems already linked to the chemicals include certain cancers, metabolic syndrome and, in younger females, early puberty.

“Many of these chemical exposures are beyond our control because they are in the soil, water and air,” Cooper said. “But we can educate ourselves about our day-to-day chemical exposures and become more aware of the plastics and other household products we use.”...Although many of the chemicals included in the study have been banned from U.S. production because of their negative health effects, they still are produced globally and are pervasive in the environment.

In the study, Cooper and researchers at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine and the Wadsworth Center at the State University of New York at Albany analyzed data collected from 1999-2008 as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The survey included data from 31,575 people, including 1,442 menopausal women who had been tested for levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals. The average age of these women was 61, and none was using estrogen-replacement therapies or had had surgery to remove ovaries.

The women’s blood and urine samples were analyzed for exposures to 111 mostly man-made chemicals, which included known reproductive toxins and/or those that take more than a year to break down. Chemicals from the following categories were analyzed in the survey: dioxins/furans (industrial combustion byproducts); phthalates (found in plastics, common household items, pharmaceuticals and personal-care products including lotions, perfumes, makeup, nail polish, liquid soap and hair spray); phytoestrogens (plant-derived estrogens); polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs, coolants); phenolic derivatives (phenols, industrial pollutants); organophosphate pesticides; surfactants; and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (combustion products).

The researchers identified 15 chemicals — nine PCBs, three pesticides, two phthalates and a furan (a toxic chemical) — that warrant closer evaluation because they were significantly associated with earlier ages of menopause and potentially have detrimental effects on ovarian functionagefurans