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Good Housekeeping
Jennifer Chan, Assistant Managing Editor
November 15, 2011

Hardcore Exercise May Lead to Early Menopause but Might Prevent Cancer as Well

Research shows that a rigorous physical regimen can either help you or hurt you, depending on how you look at it. By Jennifer Chan

Health buffs, listen up! According to a new Japanese study, women who exercise a lot increase the possibility of their reaching menopause earlier than expected. Those who are ardent heart-healthy eaters are also in the same boat. 

These findings came about when researchers studied 3,100 premenopausal women for 10 years. Results revealed that those who exercised for 10 hours or more were 17 percent more likely to hit menopause early than those who didn’t. Meanwhile, women who concentrated on consuming food rich in polyunsaturated fats (often found in fatty fish and vegetable oils) were found to be 15 percent more likely to become menopausal earlier than expected. 

Typically, women experience menopause between ages 41 to 55, says Dr. Margery Gass of the North American Menopause Society. To become menopausal earlier than the abovementioned age bracket due to a healthy lifestyle might seem a tad unfair, but the study also highlights one important benefit of hardcore training.

Since women who reach menopausal stage are no longer capable of producing eggs, they are less exposed to high estrogen levels, which are said to be a contributing factor to breast cancer. Having a significantly lowered risk of this hormone creating breast tumors, women can at least breathe a little easier. 

However, Dr. JoAnn E. Manson, President of the North American Menopause Society, does not see the study’s findings as black and white. Other factors beyond women’s food intake and physical regimen might have had a hand in early menopause as well.

For more on menopause, try this article:

(Photo by lululemon athletica via Flickr Creative Commons)

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Jennifer Chan
Assistant Managing Editor
Jennifer Chan was a contributing writer for Female Network for two years before formally joining the team as a staff writer in July 2012... Read more...
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