The early loss of ovarian reserve and subsequent menopause has a major impact on fertility potential and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, cognitive decline and mortality later in life. While many studies have reported that lifestyle factors such as diet can influence the age of onset of natural menopause, their results are often contradictory. Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine the influence of diet on the onset of natural menopause using a self-reported food frequency questionnaire in a cohort of 1146 pre-menopausal women followed up for an average of 12.5 years. The primary finding was that the age of natural menopause was positively correlated with dietary intake of the micronutrient β-cryptoxanthin (r2=0.105, p < 0.001) and fruit (r2=0.07, p = 0.01), with these relationships remaining significant even after adjustment for other known co-variants for onset of menopause (parity, BMI, physical activity level, education, smoking, energy and alcohol intake). Kaplan–Meier survival analysis confirmed that both β-cryptoxanthin and fruit intake was associated with a significant delay in the onset of natural menopause. While still acknowledging that further research is required, in the interim we would advocate that a diet containing ∼400 mcg of β-cryptoxanthin per day from fruits (mandarins, oranges and peaches) has significant potential to delay ovarian senescence by 1.3 years.
- ovarian reserve