Age-at-menopause and leukocyte telomere length (LTL) are both associated with biologic aging. Therefore, it would be reasonable to hypothesize that LTL may also serve as a marker for reproductive aging as shorter LTL may be associated with earlier age-at-menopause.
We analyzed data from 799 post-menopausal (ages 41-85) participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999-2002), a nationally representative sample of U.S. women.
Controlling for behavioral, socio-demographic, and health-related determinants of menopause, we found that among non-Hispanic white women, an increase of one standard deviation in LTL was associated with a 0.43 year higher reported age-at-menopause. Among Mexican-Americans, an increase of one standard deviation in LTL was associated with a 1.56 year earlier menopause. There was no significant association between LTL and age-at-menopause among non-Hispanic black women.
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Our main finding is evidence of a strong interaction by race/ethnicity in the association between LTL and age-at-menopause. This evidence does not support the hypothesis that shorter LTL is a predictor of earlier age-at-menopause, as the magnitude and direction of the associations between LTL and age-at-menopause varied across racial/ethnic groups.