Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) adversely affect human health. Our objective was to determine the association of EDC exposure with earlier age of menopause.
Cross-sectional survey using National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data from 1999 to 2008 (n = 31,575 females). Eligible participants included: menopausal women >30 years of age; not currently pregnant, breastfeeding, using hormonal contraception; no history of bilateral oophorectomy or hysterectomy. Exposures, defined by serum lipid and urine creatinine-adjusted measures of EDCs, data were analyzed: > 90th percentile of the EDC distribution among all women, log-transformed EDC level, and decile of EDC level. Multi linear regression models considered complex survey design characteristics and adjusted for age, race/ethnicity, smoking, body mass index. EDCs were stratified into long (>1 year), short, and unknown half-lives; principle analyses were performed on those with long half-lives as well as phthalates, known reproductive toxicants. Secondary analysis determined whether the odds of being menopausal increased with EDC exposure among women aged 45–55 years.
This analysis examined 111 EDCs and focused on known reproductive toxicants or chemicals with half-lives >1 year. Women with high levels of β-hexachlorocyclohexane, mirex, p,p’-DDE, 1,2,3,4,6,7,8-heptachlorodibenzofuran, mono-(2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl) and mono-(2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl) phthalate, polychlorinated biphenyl congeners −70, −99, −105, −118, −138, −153, −156, −170, and −183 had mean ages of menopause 1.9 to 3.8 years earlier than women with lower levels of these chemicals. EDC-exposed women were up to 6 times more likely to be menopausal than non-exposed women.
This study of a representative sample of US women documents an association between EDCs and earlier age at menopause. We identified 15 EDCs that warrant closer evaluation because of their persistence and potential detrimental effects on ovarian function. Earlier menopause can alter the quantity and quality of a woman’s life and has profound implications for fertility, human reproduction, and our global society.