Did you know your body has the ability to predict how long you'll live? At least that's what a new study is saying. According to this study, your menstrual cycle holds the key to your longevity.
That might sound unbelievable. But do you remember how old you were when you began menstruating? And have you already reached menopause? If so, this study says you can predict whether you're on track to live into your 90s.
Right now, there are about 1.3 million women alive today in the U.S. who have reached this milestone, and researchers expect this number to continue to increase. According to research conducted at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and published in the journal Menopause, if you enjoyed more than 40 reproductive years, you're more likely to be among them.
This study followed approximately 16,000 participants in the Women's Health Initiative study for 21 years. About 55% of the women lived to age 90 or beyond. Those who did were more likely to have begun menstruating at age 12 or older and to have experienced menopause, naturally or surgically, at age 50 or older. If the difference between the two ages is at least 40 years, your odds of living into your 90s is quite good.
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While you may not think you have much control over the timing of either of these events, there are actually a number of factors that seem to lead to earlier menopause. These include smoking and diabetes, as the carcinogens in cigarettes and the presence of uncontrolled blood sugar can damage both the cardiovascular system and the ovaries.
So the secret to this prediction is that delayed menopause directly impacts longevity. Actually, it indicates that you're in good health and therefore more likely to live longer.
With that said, if you experienced menopause earlier than 50, don't throw in the towel on your goal of living a long, healthy life. This is just one predictor, not a guarantee. But you should consider whether you have any unhealthy habits or conditions that may have contributed to the early onset of menopause for you. If you were a smoker, be sure you treat your cardiovascular system with extra care. If you're diabetic, be particularly careful to keep your blood sugar under control.
If you've already reached the milestone of 40+ reproductive years, keep up the good work with the healthy habits you've established. But even for you, remember that this is just a predictor. It's not a guarantee. You need to make sure you continue to eat right, exercise, and care for your body. This will help you not only make it to your 90th birthday and beyond, but actually enjoy the journey!
Better Health and Living for Women,
Aladdin H. Shadyab, Caroline A. Macera, Richard A. Shaffer, Sonia Jain, Linda C. Gallo, Margery L.S. Gass, Molly E. Waring, Marcia L. Stefanick, Andrea Z. LaCroix. Ages at menarche and menopause and reproductive lifespan as predictors of exceptional longevity in women. Menopause, 2016; 1 DOI: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000710.