Study: Breast cancer gene tied to early menopause

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Women with the BRCA gene, already at greater risk for breast and ovarian cancer, may also be at increased risk for early menopause, a new study shows.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that a harmful mutation in the BRCA gene may reduce childbearing years and may increase risk of infertility. And heavy smokers who carry the mutation may go through menopause even earlier than nonsmokers with the mutation.

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Dr. Mitchell Rosen, director of the UCSF Fertility Preservation, was senior author of the study, published online Tuesday in the journal Cancer.

The study of 400 northern California women with the gene mutation revealed that they experienced menopause at age 50, on average. Menopause for women without the mutation began at about 53. Women with the mutation who smoked more than 20 cigarettes daily saw the onset of menopause at age 46, on average. -- HealthDay

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