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Age at Menarche Associated with Seven Cancers

, by DCEG Staff

Mother and daughter at store to purchase feminine care products.

Credit: Getty Images

Younger age at the first menstrual period, menarche, is associated with increased risk of seven cancers in middle-age, according to a study using pooled-data from nine cohorts, published April 2021 in the journal, Cancer Research.

The declining average age at menarche among women in European and U.S. populations over the last two centuries may have wide-ranging implications for disease risk in aging women. To investigate this further, Steven C. Moore, Ph.D., M.P.H., Earl Stadtman tenure-track investigator in the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch, and co-authors tested for associations between age at menarche and risks of 19 cancers. To conduct the analysis, they pooled data from 536,450 women who enrolled in one of nine prospective U.S. and European cohorts from 1981 to 1998. Among the 60,968 women diagnosed with a first primary incident cancer, investigators observed inverse linear associations between age at menarche and seven of the 19 cancers studied. They found that each additional year in the age at menarche was associated with reduced risks of endometrial cancer, liver cancer, melanoma, bladder cancer, and cancers of the colon, lung, and breast. 

Further research is needed to investigate the hormonal mechanisms that may contribute to the causal pathways of these cancers.

Reference:

Fuhrman, B.J., Moore, S. C. et al. Association of the Age at Menarche with Site-Specific Cancer Risks in Pooled Data from Nine Cohorts. Cancer Res 2021.

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