Early menopause can increase the risk of a potentially lethal brain condition, research has shown.
The younger a woman is when she undergoes “the change” the more likely she is to suffer a cerebral aneurysm, scientists discovered.
Aneurysms are abnormal bulges in arteries that can burst, causing sudden loss of blood.
A cerebral aneurysm is often only discovered when it ruptures, resulting in a potentially fatal or disabling brain haemorrhage.
Although rare, the condition is extremely serious. Half of those who suffer a burst artery in the brain are likely to die, and one in five is severely disabled.
US scientists found that both later menopause and use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) protected against cerebral aneurysm.
Each successive four-year increase in the age at which a woman went through the menopause lessened the risk by around 21%, while HRT reduced the risk by 77%.
The pattern may be linked to levels of the female sex hormone oestrogen. After the menopause oestrogen levels drop sharply, while they are raised by HRT.