Accelerated biological aging was seen in women who had severe menopausal vasomotor symptoms (VMS) on enrollment in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study (WHI-OS), or late-occurring VMS (at enrollment but not during their reported menopause transition, according to a study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
“Previously, we discovered that VMS was associated with indicators of age-related health risks, such as cardiovascular disease (CVD) and osteoporosis,” said senior author Rebecca Thurston, PhD, a professor of psychiatry, psychology and epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh. “We were interested in finding out if women with VMS had greater underlying epigenetic aging.”
The investigators examined connections between menopausal VMS and biological aging in 1,206 participants of the WHI-OS (average age 65 years at enrollment) who retained both ovaries and were not taking hormone therapy. Recruitment for baseline assessment occurred between 1993 and 1998. The sample comprised 55% non-Hispanic White women, 26% non-Hispanic Black women and 19% Hispanic women. Roughly one-third of the sample reported VMS at enrollment and 60% of the sample had VMS at some point during the menopause transition and/or at enrollment.
Connections between menopausal VMS and biological aging were assessed by two DNA methylation-based epigenetic aging indicators formerly linked to poor health outcomes: DNAm PhenoAge and DNAm GrimAge. Although no single metric proposed to characterize biological aging is universally accepted, DNAm-based indications offer the advantage of being a broad-based marker of accelerated aging across a diverse set of bodily systems and indicate robust relationships with adverse health outcomes, including CVD, mortality and Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Thurston is a consultant to Astellas Pharma, Virtue Health, Pfizer and Procter & Gamble.