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Your Environment. Your Health.

High PFAS Tied to Earlier Menopause

Sung Kyun Park, Sc.D.
University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
R01ES026578, R01ES026964, P30ES017885

High levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the body may accelerate menopause in women, according to a new NIEHS-funded study. PFAS are synthetic chemicals found in many consumer products. The substances persist in the environment and have been linked with a variety of health problems.

The researchers analyzed serum levels of PFAS in a national sample of 1,200 U.S. women aged 45-56 years between 1999 and 2017. They evaluated the relationship between age of menopause and concentrations of seven individual PFAS and PFAS mixtures in serum.

For individual PFAS, all but one showed a significant relationship between increasing serum levels and earlier age of menopause. The median age of menopause was approximately one year earlier for women in the higher exposure groups compared to the lower exposure groups. The combined effect of PFAS was more pronounced, with women in the highest exposure group reaching menopause a full two years earlier than women in the lowest exposure group.

These results suggest that PFAS may play an important role in ovarian aging, perhaps through disrupting the endocrine system. According to the authors, menopause occurring even a few years earlier than normal can have significant effects on cardiovascular and bone health, quality of life, and overall health among women.

Citation: Ding N, Harlow SD, Randolf JF, Calafat AM, Mukherjee B, Batterman S, Gold EB, Park SK. 2020. Associations of Perfluoroalkyl Substances With Incident Natural Menopause: The Study of Women's Health Across the Nation. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. doi:10.1210/clinem/dgaa303 [Online 3 June 2020]

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