A new study suggests that a higher intake of vegetable protein is linked to a reduction in the risk of early menopause.
The study was led by the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA and published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
Menopause is the time at which women experience their last menstrual period and tends to happen in a woman’s early 50s but may happen a few years earlier or later.
If it occurs before the age of 45 then it is considered to be ‘early menopause’, this can either be due to natural causes or man-made, such as the ovaries being removed or through chemotherapy.
Early menopause has been linked to health problems including osteoporosis as well as a higher risk of early death.
It is noted that, while factors causing early menopause are not fuller understood, there seems to be no link to autoimmune disorders or genetics.
In the study, the research team analysed date taken from the Nurses’ Health Study II in order to investigate the link between early menopause and diet.
This research involved 85,682 women who went through natural menopause since 1991, and looked at food questionnaires taken by the participants.
These questionnaires went into a substantial detail and asked how often the participants consumed 131 foods, drinks and supplements.
Of the participants in the study, 2,041 experienced early menopause and the data showed that higher levels of vegetable protein consumption was linked to a lower risk of early menopause
Interestingly there was no link at all between animal protein intake and early menopause, wither positive or negative.
The results showed that women who consumed 6.5 per cent of their daily calories in the form of vegetable protein had a 16 per cent lower chance of early menopause. The research team have called for further studies into the matter, with them specifically interested in the impact of soy-based and non-soy-based proteins.
They conclude: “A better understanding of how dietary vegetable protein intake is associated with ovarian ageing may identify ways for women to modify their risk of early onset of menopause and associated health conditions.”