UNC Researchers Conduct Most Diverse Genetic Study of Female Reproductive Milestones to Date

August 2, 2018

A new study is the first to examine multiple genes that influence the age at which a woman starts her period (menarche) and experiences menopause among a large sample of United States women of diverse ancestries. Several minority groups of women in the U.S., particularly African-American and Hispanic/Latina women, experience these milestones on average earlier than white women do – a fact that places female members of these racial and ethnic groups at greater risk for certain cardiovascular diseases and cancers.

“Although these population-level differences are likely due in large part to greater exposure to non-genetic risk factors like obesity or smoking, we know very little to date about the underlying genes involved in early menarche and menopause among U.S. minority women,” said Dr. Lindsay Fernández-Rhodes, the corresponding author of the study. “Therefore, we have to do a better job of identifying which genes are involved in order to understand how they interact with obesity, smoking and other public health priorities.”

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