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Last Updated: Monday, 25 June 2007, 10:17 GMT 11:17 UK
Stressful job 'hastens' menopause
A woman sits at her computer
Multi-tasking was one feature of a 'stressful job'
Stressful working conditions may hasten the onset of the menopause, a study from France suggests.

Researchers writing in the American Journal of Epidemiology looked at 1,500 post-menopausal women.

The average menopause age of the nearly 9% who reported "high strain" work was 51 - one year earlier than what was taken as the average age of onset.

But one British fertility expert cast doubt on any relation between stress and earlier menopause.

"High-strain" jobs were categorised as those which demanded at least one of the following: the need to rush, perform several tasks at once, or frequent interruptions when working.

However the impact of these conditions was minimised when the woman in question had a high degree of control over the work she did.

Hormone theory

Some women have difficulty managing their time, the stress of which may upset the hormone balance in their bodies and "affect the ageing of the ovaries", said Dr Bernard Cassou, who led the research.

Smoking, which has long been held to have an impact upon timing of the menopause, was seen to affect onset among those who smoked more than 10 cigarettes each day.

But the chairman of the British Menopause Society said the stress angle of the study went against all the research he was aware of.

"People who want to find links do, but there's a vast body of research which shows there is no evidence of a connection between stress and the menopause," said Professor John Studd.

The menopause generally takes place between the ages of 45 and 55, but for a few women it can start as early as 35 - or as late as 60.

It occurs when levels of the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone fall and the body stops releasing eggs.

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