Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Early menopause may occur in women with BRCA gene

Date:
January 29, 2013
Source:
University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)
Summary:
Women with harmful mutations in the BRCA gene, which put them at higher risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, tend to undergo menopause significantly sooner than other women, allowing them an even briefer reproductive window and possibly a higher risk of infertility, according to a new study.

Mitchell Rosen, M.D., is the director of the UCSF Fertility Preservation Center.
Credit: Brian Auerbach/UCSF

Women with harmful mutations in the BRCA gene, which put them at higher risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, tend to undergo menopause significantly sooner than other women, allowing them an even briefer reproductive window and possibly a higher risk of infertility, according to a study led by researchers at UC San Francisco.

Related Articles


Moreover, the study showed that carriers of the mutation who are heavy smokers enter menopause at an even earlier age than non-smoking women with the mutation.

While the authors note that further research is needed, given the size and demographics of the study, women with the abnormal gene mutation should consider earlier childbearing, and their doctors should encourage them to initiate fertility counseling along with other medical treatments, the scientists said.

The study will be published online in Cancer on January 29, 2013.

This is the first controlled study to explore the association between BRCA1 and BRCA 2 and the age at onset of menopause, the authors said.

"Our findings show that mutation of these genes has been linked to early menopause, which may lead to a higher incidence of infertility,'' said senior author Mitchell Rosen, MD, director of the UCSF Fertility Preservation Center and associate professor in the UCSF Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences. "This can add to the significant psychological implications of being a BRCA1/2 carrier, and will likely have an impact on reproductive decision-making,'' Rosen said.

Mutations in either of the genes BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 can produce a hereditary, lifetime risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Some women decide to reduce their risk by undergoing prophylactic surgery to remove at-risk tissue, including their breasts and ovaries. The abnormal genes are the most identified inherited cause of breast cancer -- carriers are five times more likely to develop breast cancer than those without the mutations, according to the National Cancer Institute.

The new study was designed to determine whether women with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation have an earlier onset of menopause compared with unaffected women.

The researchers looked at nearly 400 female carriers of mutations in the BRCA gene in northern California and compared their onset of menopause to that of 765 women in the same geographic area without the mutation. Most of the women in the study were white because almost all of the BRCA1/2 carriers within the UCSF cancer risk registry are white.

The scientists found that women with the harmful mutation experienced menopause at a significantly younger age -- 50 years -- compared to age 53 for the other midlife women.

Heavy smokers (more than 20 cigarettes a day) with the abnormal gene had an even earlier onset of menopause -- 46 years. By comparison, only seven percent of white women in northern California had undergone menopause by that age, said the authors. Smoking has been shown to alter menstrual cycles and estrogen status, among other impacts.

The authors point out that while their study shows a possible increased risk of infertility for the mutation carriers, further study is needed. They also said that data regarding the age of natural menopause is limited because most women with the mutation are recommended to undergo risk-reducing surgery after they complete childbearing.

"Women with the mutation are faced with challenges in reproductive choices,'' said study co-author Lee-may Chen, MD, a professor in the UCSF Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Services. "These data may help women understand that their childbearing years may be even more limited by earlier menopause, so that they can make decisions about their reproductive choices and cancer risk-reducing surgery.''

The first author of the study is Wayne T. Lin, MD, MPH, who at the time of the research was a resident at UCSF and is now a fellow at the Brigham and Women's Hospital at Harvard Medical School. Other authors include Marcelle Cedars, MD, a UCSF professor and director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Services ; and Mary Beattie, MD, clinical professor in the UCSF Department of Medicine. Study data was collected from the Cancer Risk Program at UCSF and the northern California site of the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation, a project of the University of California Davis and Kaiser Permanente.

Funding for the study was provided by National Institutes of Health grants NR004061, AG012505, AG012535, AG012531, AG012539, AG012546, AG012553, AG012554, and AG012495. Support was also provided by the UCSF Cancer Risk Program Patient Registry, which is supported by the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. The Study of Women's Health Across the Nation has grant support from the NIH, Department of Health and Human Services through the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Nursing Research, and the NIH Office of Research on Women's Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). "Early menopause may occur in women with BRCA gene." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130129074429.htm>.
University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). (2013, January 29). Early menopause may occur in women with BRCA gene. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130129074429.htm
University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). "Early menopause may occur in women with BRCA gene." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130129074429.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

AFP (Nov. 27, 2014) — The Ebola epidemic sweeping Sierra Leone is having a profound effect on the country's children, many of whom have been left without any family members to support them. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Trial

Experimental Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Trial

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — A recent test of a prototype Ebola vaccine generated an immune response to the disease in subjects. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins