Vegetarian Diet associated with Younger Age of Menopause

A cross-sectional study from the United Kingdom (the Breakthrough Generations Study) found that self-described vegetarians were more likely to have an earlier age of natural menopause. In turn, a lower age of menopause has been associated with lower rates of breast cancer.

The authors wrote:

“Vegetarians reached menopause at a mean age of 50.1 years, which was significantly earlier than non-vegetarians (mean menopausal age = 50.7 years, HR = 1.12; P < 0.001). The effect was present regardless of whether the woman became vegetarian before 20 years of age or between the ages of 20 and 40 years (data not shown)." This confirms previous reports that vegetarians have a lower age of menopause. Reference

Morris DH, Jones ME, Schoemaker MJ, McFadden E, Ashworth A, Swerdlow AJ. Body mass index, exercise, and other lifestyle factors in relation to age at natural menopause: analyses from the breakthrough generations study. Am J Epidemiol. 2012 May 15;175(10):998-1005. | link

18 Responses to “Vegetarian Diet associated with Younger Age of Menopause”

  1. Kathleen Keene Says:

    Hallelujah! I first started when I was 10, so that is welcome news! I’m 38, and wonder if I’m starting “peri-menopause” yet.

  2. Nick Says:

    Stupid question: is this supposed to be a good thing or a bad thing?

  3. Jack Norris RD Says:


    As I mention in the post above, a lower age of menopause has been associated with lower rates of breast cancer.

  4. Kathleen Keene Says:

    The less times a woman has her period in her life, naturally, the better, generally speaking.

  5. Daisy Says:

    I’m sorry, but I can’t equate early menopause with good anything. With more and more women putting off having children until later in life, that “average” could be a real problem for some of them.

    Not to mention menopause side effects: vaginal dryness, dry skin, depression, loss of sex drive, hot flashes, etc, etc.

    Compared to those problems, what’s your chances of coming down with breast cancer anyway?

  6. Kathleen Keene Says:

    @Daisy: I can see your concern. I would suggest women don’t wait until after their forties to have a child anyway. It’s not healthy to have children when older (or too young) for that matter. (Vegan diet is associated with later menses for girls as well.-from The China Study by T. Colin Campbell)
    Menopause is going to happen anyway, and studies have shown that it’s less severe in vegans. Menopause is suppose to just mean the end of menstruation, not the end of life.

  7. Daisy Says:

    You may “suggest” all you want, but with women becoming more educated and developing good careers, more and more are waiting until later in life to have children. Shockingly enough, that’s their choice. An “average” of 50 years means just that: an average. Some will go through menopause at 35, 40, some at 55, 60.

    IMO, to promote early menopause as an outright good thing is unjustified. I’ve never seen a real “study” that showed menopause as “less severe” for vegans. In fact, I doubt there are enough vegans around to do a real, long term scientific study. On the other hand, I have seen scientific research that showed soy products did not reduce side effects of menopause. Link below.

    Menopause is NOT the end of life, but it is the end of a woman’s chance to reproduce. It also lowers sexual desire, can cause vaginal dryness which makes sex less attractive to either partner, dry skin, hot flashes, depression and who knows what else. Sex is not necessary in life, but it sure makes it more interesting.

  8. Nick Says:

    “Menopause is going to happen anyway”

    This is a major logical fallacy, or at best a form of fatalism. I don’t have an opinion on menopause/menstruation, nor do I feel entitled to one, but I do have an interest in logical argumentation. Death is also going to “happen anyway,” but I think I’ll do my best to put it off for a while.

  9. Larissa Says:

    As an endometriosis sufferer, and end to it all earlier is definitely a positive.

  10. Sharon Says:

    The difference is 6 months… ie. 50.1 vs 50.7. I don’t think that is enough to get terribly emotional and righteous about. Yawn.

  11. Kristina Says:

    Menopause is scary for many people women feel they will lose their feminine aspects. Here is what I learned: At menopause the ovaries stop producing estrogen but estrogen does not stop completely. The adrenals are supposed to take over IF they are strong and not fatigued. So you want to keep the adrenals healthy and strong so they can do the job and provide you with estrogen.
    The China Study supports earlier menopause for vegan women. Much earlier. There is a really interesting chart in there that shows the pre menopause hormone levels of omnivores vs vegans. Omnivores have much higher estrogen levels and when menopause hits they crash harder and longer. Vegans have about half the estroger from diet and their menopause is a shorter drop off. It’s worthwhile to see the chart. Our menopause will be easier and less of an “abrupt” change. That is good.

  12. Justin Says:

    Premature (Pre 40 yrs) or early (40-45 yrs) menopause is shown to have long term effects with early deterioration in verbal fluency and visual memory. It also raises the chances of early osteoporosis unless hormone treatment is used up to at least the age of 45. The average age for menopause in the Western world is 50 so the figure produced above is somewhat misleading. Early menopause is not a good thing.

  13. JPF Says:

    I eat a plant based diet, no processed foods, dairy or other animal products. My period stopped right after I turned 48, just stopped. No symptoms, no hot flashes, no weight gain. About 2 months after it stopped I noticed for the second time no regular cycle, and thought something was wrong – but my sister who is also an MD said that studies show this is what happens for women on plant based.
    It was a little weird having it go away so quietly after hearing for years all the symptoms and issues women have, but at the same time grateful I did not have to worry about hormones and symptoms.

  14. Michelle Says:

    I went purely plant based two years ago, vegetarian 25 years before. My periods stopped completely with going vegan. Concerned me a little. Had complete blood work panel done, everything are back normal. I have no other menopausal symptoms,, just no periods, which in my opinion is a great thing. The health benefits of a vegan diet seems to outweigh other complications to me – and no-one has t die so I can eat!

  15. Jack Norris RD Says:


    Losing your period before menopause could be a sign that you’re not making enough estrogen which could lead to osteoporosis. I encourage you to talk to a medical doctor about your specific case. Generally, if someone’s body fat is so low that she becomes amenhorriac, she should add more fat and calories to increase her body fat until her period returns.

  16. Michelle Says:

    Hi Jack,
    So you have a little more info on me. I am 49 yrs old now, so my menses didn’t stop until I was 47 and they were irregular prior to the cessation. I use a lot of oils, mostly avocado and olive, in my cooking. My menses also started fairly late, age 13. I am 5’2″ less tall and 110lbs. I don’t count calories but eat large amount of food.

  17. Andrea Says:

    Early menopause was associated with a 3 year reduction in total life expectancy compared to females with an average age of menopause, and a 3.5 year reduction in total life expectancy when compared to females experiencing late menopause.

  18. Stacey E. Says:

    I started to wonder if this finding was meant to be a good thing, too. I became vegetarian around 20 or 21, and my pre-menopause started really kicking in at age 49. I went almost a year without a period, and then I had two or three months of real doozies. So, just when I thought maybe I had completed menopause, something comes back to remind me I have a couple of eggs left. My mother was a meat eater, and I’m pretty sure menopause happened well into her 50s. I don’t think we ever really discussed it. So in my case, this finding happens to be true. I don’t know how they can claim an early menopause means an earlier death. I have to wonder what other factors are present in Andrea’s study. I mean, were they smokers or drinkers? Did they live in a third world country? It seems absurd to claim those things go together. And what’s considered an average age to go through menopause? Weird.

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