390 Caucasian women, average age 48, from northern Europe were recruited in the Malmo Perimenopausal Study. In this observational study, the females were regularly followed-up after the age of 48.
The authors divided the women into two groups:
- Those whose menopause started before they were 47 years old
- Those whose menopause started after they were 47 years old
56% of the early-menopause women had osteoporosis by the age of 77, compared to 30% in the other group.
A higher risk of fragility fracture and mortality (early death) was also observed in the early-menopause group. The mortality rate in the late (normal) menopause group was 35.2%, compared to 52.4% in the early menopause group. 44.3% of the women in the early-menopause group had a fracture, compare to 30.7% in the other group.
Senior author, orthopedic surgeon, Ola Svejme, said:
"The results of this study suggest that early menopause is a significant risk factor for osteoporosis, fragility fracture and mortality in a long-term perspective. To our knowledge, this is the first prospective study with a follow-up period of more than three decades."
Pierre Martin-Hirsch, BJOG Deputy Editor-in-Chief, , wrote:
"The study's strength is the length of time the women were observed. The higher mortality rate in women with an early menopause needs to be explored further as many other factors could affect this such as medication, nutrition, smoking and alcohol consumption."