New test may determine early menopause and help women prevent osteoporosis

The first research from the Breakthrough Generations Study, which was recently published in Human Molecular Genetics, could predict early menopause. Although early menopause is associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer, women who experience this change are susceptible to other health problems including osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and a reduction in fertility.

The study from scientists at the University of Exeter Peninsula Medical School and The Institute of Cancer Research tested four genes associated with menopause. They compared 2,000 women from the Breakthrough Generations Study who had experienced early menopause with a matched group of the same number. The four genes each affected risk of early menopause. In combination, they had a larger impact, which may explain why some women experience early menopause.

The research could help women determine whether they have a genetic predisposition to early menopause, and therefore take measures to prevent related health conditions.

"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."