Women's health

Test could predict early menopause

Test could predict early menopause Genes which raise risk of early menopause identified

UK scientists are a step closer to developing a test which could identify women at risk of an early menopause.

In the UK, one in 20 women start the menopause before the age of 45. Although the average age for women in the UK to reach the menopause is 52, a woman's ability to conceive decreases 10 years before this.

But now a team of UK scientists have identified four genes associated with risk of an early menopause, which could pave the way for a test that could warn women when their fertility may start to decline.

Researchers at the University of Exeter Peninsula Medical School and The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) compared the DNA of 2,000 women who had experienced early menopause with that from a similar number of women who had experienced the menopause at a normal age.

All the women were volunteers in the Breakthrough Generations Study, which is investigating the causes of breast cancer.

Although each of the four genes identified affected the risk of an early menopause, in combination they have a much greater impact.

Study leader Dr Anna Murray, from the University of Exeter Peninsula Medical School, said: "Those who are destined to have an early menopause and delay childbearing until their 30s are more likely to have problems conceiving.

"These findings are the first stage in developing an easy and relatively inexpensive genetic test which could help the one in 20 UK women who may be affected by early menopause."

The findings are published in the journal Human Molecular Genetics.

This article was published on Mon 18 October 2010

Image © EastWest Imaging - Fotolia.com

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