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Menopause, insomnia make you age faster

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hot flashesPicture Credit: thehealthdigest.org

Washington DC: Turns out, those hot flashes and sleepless nights can send you to an early grave, reports ANI. Two separate UCLA studies suggest that menopause and insomnia could increase women’s risk for aging-related diseases and earlier death. “For decades, scientists have disagreed over whether menopause causes aging or aging causes menopause,” said senior author Steve Horvath. “It’s like the chicken or the egg: which came first? Our study is the first to demonstrate that menopause makes you age faster.”

“Not getting restorative sleep may do more than just affect our functioning the next day; it might also influence the rate at which our biological clock ticks,” said first author Judith Carroll, adding: “In the women we studied, those reporting symptoms such as restless sleep, waking repeatedly at night, having difficulty falling asleep, and waking too early in the morning tended to be older biologically than women of similar chronological age who reported no symptoms.”

For their findings, both studies used a “biological clock” developed by Horvath, which has become a widely used method for tracking the epigenetic shift in the genome. Epigenetics is the study of changes to DNA packaging that influence which genes are expressed but don’t affect the DNA sequence itself.


In the menopause study, Horvath and first author Morgan Levine tracked methylation, a chemical biomarker linked to aging, to analyze DNA samples from more than 3,100 women enrolled in four large studies, including the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) a major 15-year research program that addressed the most common causes of death, disability and poor quality of life in postmenopausal women.

They measured the biological age of cells from blood, saliva and inside the cheek, to explore the relationship between each woman’s chronological age and her body’s biological age. “We discovered that menopause speeds up cellular aging by an average of 6 percent,” said Horvath. “That doesn’t sound like much but it adds up over a woman’s lifespan.”