Background: Early menopause is associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease in Caucasian women. However, this association has not been examined in Asian women. Methods: We conducted a 10-year cohort study of 37,965 Japanese post-menopausal women aged 40-79 years in the Japan Collaborative Cohort (JACC) Study. Causes of death were determined based on the International Classification of Disease. Results: There were 487 mortality of stroke and 178 mortality of coronary heart disease. Late menarche or early menopause, or shorter duration of reproductive period was not associated with risk of mortality from coronary heart disease. However, compared with women with age at menarche ≤13 years, those with age at menarche ≥17 years tended to have increased risk of mortality from stroke: the multivariable hazard ratio was 1.32 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.93-1.87, p = 0.10). Compared with women with age at menopause of ≥49 years, those with age at menopause of <49 years tended to have increased risk of coronary heart disease among women aged 40-64 years; the multivariable hazard ratio was 1.85 (95% CI: 0.92-3.73, p = 0.08). Conclusions: The possible association between early menopause and coronary heart disease among middle-aged women was consistent with the result of observational studies for Caucasian women, and can be explained by a protective effect of endogenous estrogen on the development of atherosclerosis.
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