Heavy metals linked to premature menopause in women

Impact of heavy metals on anti-müllerian hormone during menopausal transition.


Middle-aged women with high levels of heavy metals may experience early menopause. The University of Michigan found that cadmium, mercury, and arsenic in urine are linked to lower anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH), indicating reduced egg reserves. The impact of heavy metals on AMH was more substantial than that of smoking, a known risk for low ovarian reserve. 

Menopause, marked by hormonal changes, can bring adverse health effects. The research highlights the potential harm heavy metals pose to ovarian function in women approaching this life stage.

Study author Sung Kyun Park, an associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health sciences at the U-M School of Public Health, said, “Widespread exposure to toxins in heavy metals may have a big impact on health problems linked to earlier aging of the ovaries in middle-aged women, such as hot flashes, bone weakening and osteoporosis, higher chances of heart disease, and cognitive decline.” 

“Our study linked heavy metal exposure to lower levels of anti-Müllerian hormone in middle-aged women. AMH tells us roughly how many eggs are left in a woman’s ovaries. It’s like a biological clock for the ovaries that can hint at health risks in middle age and later life.” He added

Researchers analyzed data from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation, focusing on 549 women aged 45 to 56. They measured anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) levels in 2,252 instances over a decade after the woman’s last menstrual period. The diverse group included 45% white, 21% Black, 15% Chinese, and 19% Japanese women. 

The study found that common heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead, present in everyday elements like drinking water and certain foods, could harm ovarian function. The researchers emphasized recognizing these potential health risks in the general population.

Recent studies show that heavy metals, like cadmium and lead, could harm reproductive health. While past research focused on pregnant and premenopausal women, a new study examines perimenopausal women. 

The researchers suggest that understanding the impact of heavy metals on reproductive hormones, like anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH), could help address health issues such as premature menopause, bone loss, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, and more. 

The study emphasizes the need for further research, especially in younger populations, to better grasp how heavy metals may affect ovarian reserves and overall health in women of all ages.

Journal reference:

  1. Ning Ding, Xin Wang, et al., Heavy Metals and Trajectories of Anti-Müllerian Hormone During the Menopausal Transition. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. DOI: 10.1210/clinem/dgad756.


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