Lead Could Trigger Early Menopause, Study Finds

This heavy metal could increase a women's risk of heart disease, a study suggests.

January 10, 2014

Causes of early menopause include a woman's genetic makeup and also sometimes autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid disease. But now scientists say we may need to include an environmental factor on that list: lead exposure.

In the new study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers investigated women's exposure to the heavy metal lead and compared it to when they went through menopause.


After looking at more than 430 women, they found those with the highest lead exposure reported going through menopause more than a year earlier than those with the lowest lead levels. Women with the highest levels also faced a much higher chance of completing early menopause before age 45.

That might not seem like a big deal, but early menopause is linked with seriously health problems, including a higher risk of heart disease.

Lead is toxic and has been linked to all sorts of health problems, including brain damage, developmental problems in children, cancer, fatigue, and high blood pressure.

How to get lead out of your life:
• Have a professional remediate any old paint in your home containing lead.
• Avoid fake leather purses and products (red and yellow paints on "pleather" are often contaminated with lead).
• Limit apple juice consumption, and instead eat the actual apple.
• Have your tap water tested for lead, and look for a filter certified to remove it if lead is detected.

For more ways to avoid lead in your everyday life, read 6 Sneaky Sources of Lead.