Pesticide exposure and timing of menopause: the Agricultural Health Study

Am J Epidemiol. 2006 Apr 15;163(8):731-42. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwj099. Epub 2006 Feb 22.


Age at menopause has implications for fertility and risk of hormonally related chronic diseases. Some pesticides disrupt reproductive hormones or are toxic to the ovary, but little is known about the association between pesticide exposure and timing of menopause. Cox proportional hazards modeling was used to examine the association between use of pesticides and age at menopause among 8,038 women living and working on farms in Iowa and North Carolina. Premenopausal women aged 35-55 years were followed from enrollment (1993-1997) to the date of their last menstrual period, or their follow-up interview (1999-2003) if still premenopausal. Women who experienced surgical menopause were censored at the date of surgery. Approximately 62% of the women reported ever mixing or applying pesticides; women who had never used pesticides were the comparison group for all analyses. After control for age, smoking status, and past use of oral contraceptives, the median time to menopause increased by approximately 3 months for women who used pesticides (hazard ratio = 0.87, 95% confidence interval: 0.78, 0.97) and by approximately 5 months for women who used hormonally active pesticides (hazard ratio = 0.77, 95% confidence interval: 0.65, 0.92). Pesticide use may be associated with a later age at menopause.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Iowa / epidemiology
  • Menstruation Disturbances / chemically induced*
  • Menstruation Disturbances / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • North Carolina / epidemiology
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Pesticides / toxicity*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Pesticides