Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women in the United States, but little is known about the effect of reproductive factors. In a recent substudy of the Framingham Heart Study, researchers determined that earlier age of menarche is linked to overall obesity.
“The purpose of this study was to examine whether female reproductive risk factors — including onset of menarche, number of births over a lifetime (parity), onset of menopause and menopausal status — are all associated with indices of body fat composition,” researcher Caroline S. Fox, MD, MPH, of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, said in a press release.
Researchers analyzed 1,638 patients (aged 40 years or older; weighing less than 160 kg) from the multidetector CT (MDCT) substudy of the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) from 2002 to 2005. The patients were offspring of the FHS and third-generation cohorts.
Besides female reproductive risk factors measured, the researchers also looked at visceral adipose tissue (VAT) and subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) via MDCT.
To better understand the influences of body fat and female reproductive risk factors, the researchers also adjusted for covariates such as age, smoking status, alcohol consumption, physical activity, hormone therapy use and menopausal status.
According to data, earlier age of menarche was associated with increased BMI, waist circumference, VAT and SAT (all P<.0001). The researchers wrote that for each 1-year increase in menarche age, VAT was 61 cm3 lower. However, this association of earlier menarche with adiposity measures was weakened after adjustments for BMI. Associations between adiposity and parity, besides menopausal age, were not statistically significant, they added.
Although postmenopausal women had increased BMI, waist circumference, VAT and SAT compared with premenopausal women, the researchers said this was due to increased ages among postmenopausal women.
“This research suggests that select female reproductive risk factors, specifically onset of menarche, are associated with overall adiposity, but not with specific indices of body fat distribution,” researcher Subbulaxmi Trikudanathan, MD, of Harvard Medical School, said in a press release. “Ultimately, the important question is whether female reproductive risk factors can be used to target lifestyle interventions in high-risk women to prevent the metabolic consequences of obesity and cardiovascular disease.”
The researchers suggest that further studies determine whether female reproductive factors can be used in lifestyle interventions among women at high risk for the metabolic consequences of obesity and CVD.
- Source: Endocrine Today