Hot Flash Alert for Women!
Does menopause cause aging? Or aging cause menopause? These are questions that for decades scientists have searched for answers. But thanks to recent UCLA studies, the answer is finally here!
According to UCLA studies, menopause and the insomnia that often accompanies it make women age faster. These key factors could accelerate women’s risk for aging-related diseases and earlier death.
Steve Horvath, a professor of human genetics and biostatistics at UCLA, and a senior author on both studies said the recent study they have conducted is “the first to demonstrate that menopause makes a woman age faster.”
In addition, insomnia, a common symptom of menopause also contributed to faster aging process among menopausal women.
For their findings, both studies used a “biological clock” developed by Horvath, which has become a widely used method for tracking the epigenetic shift in the genome. Epigenetics is the study of changes to DNA packaging that influence which genes are expressed but don’t affect the DNA sequence itself.
Menopause Speeds Up Cellular Aging
By tracking methylation, a chemical biomarker linked to aging, the researchers were able to analyze DNA samples from more than 3,100 women enrolled in four large studies. The researchers measured the biological age of cells from blood, saliva and inside the cheek, to explore the relationship between each woman’s chronological age and her body’s biological age.
The results are interesting.
“We discovered that menopause speeds up cellular aging by an average of 6 percent,” said Horvath.
In addition, the younger a woman is when she enters menopause, the faster her blood ages.
Insomnia Also Accelerates Aging
Insomnia is also a factor in accelerating aging in menopausal women. Using the epigenetic clock, the researchers found that postmenopausal women with five insomnia symptoms were nearly two years older biologically than women the same chronological age with no insomnia symptoms.
The researchers concluded that based on the study, insomnia leads to the increased epigenetic age as well.
Support for the menopause study was provided by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the National Institute on Aging. The sleep study was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institute of Aging, and National Institute on Drug Abuse, with support from the UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology.