Telomere length and age-at-menopause in the US

Maturitas. 2015 Oct;82(2):215-21. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2015.07.009. Epub 2015 Jul 22.


Objectives: Age-at-menopause and leukocyte telomere length (LTL) are both associated with biologic aging. Therefore, it would be reasonable to hypothesize that LTL may also serve as a marker for reproductive aging as shorter LTL may be associated with earlier age-at-menopause.

Methods: We analyzed data from 799 post-menopausal (ages 41-85) participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999-2002), a nationally representative sample of U.S. women.

Results: Controlling for behavioral, socio-demographic, and health-related determinants of menopause, we found that among non-Hispanic white women, an increase of one standard deviation in LTL was associated with a 0.43 year higher reported age-at-menopause. Among Mexican-Americans, an increase of one standard deviation in LTL was associated with a 1.56 year earlier menopause. There was no significant association between LTL and age-at-menopause among non-Hispanic black women.

Conclusions: Our main finding is evidence of a strong interaction by race/ethnicity in the association between LTL and age-at-menopause. This evidence does not support the hypothesis that shorter LTL is a predictor of earlier age-at-menopause, as the magnitude and direction of the associations between LTL and age-at-menopause varied across racial/ethnic groups.

Keywords: Menopause; Reproductive aging; Telomeres.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethnic Groups
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes / physiology*
  • Menopause*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Telomere / physiology*
  • United States


  • Biomarkers