Diets rich in red, processed meats delay menopause
In women who follow diets loaded with animal proteins, especially red and processed meats, menopause appears to occur at a later time, a study reports.
The study included 5,312 women (mean age, 45.3 years; mean body mass index, 23.5 kg/m2; mean physical activity, 0.3 min/day) participating in the UK Women’s Cohort Study. These women completed a 217-item food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) at baseline. They also underwent menopausal status assessment at two time points, conducted 4 years apart.
Dietary patterns were derived according to two methods. Principal component analysis (PCA) identified five dietary patterns that together explained 16 percent of the variance in dietary intake as measured by the FFQ. Factor 1 was labelled ‘vegetables and legumes’, factor 2 ‘animal proteins’, factor 3 ‘fruits’, factor 4 ‘fats and sweets’, and factor 5 ‘low-calorie fats’.
On the other hand, the reduced rank regression (RRR) pinpointed three dietary patterns, as follows: ‘sweets, pastries, and puddings’, ‘low-fat dairy and meat’, and ‘red meat and processed meat’.
Cox proportional analysis revealed that women who scored high on the ‘animal proteins’ dietary pattern were 6-percent more likely to have a later natural menopause (hazard ratio [HR], 0.94, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.90–0.97) compared with those who scored lower.
The ‘red meat and processed meat’ pattern likewise predicted a 7-percent higher risk of a later menopause (HR per 1 standard deviation, 0.93, 95 percent CI, 0.87–1.00).
The present data contribute to an improved understanding of the timing of natural menopause in relation to diet, which may also have longer-term health implications in postmenopausal women.