Women with irregular menstrual cycles may have greater risk of death before age 70

Older woman.

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Women who always have irregular menstrual cycles or cycles lasting more than 40 days may have a greater risk of dying before age 70 compared to women with very regular cycles, according to a new study by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. They found that among women ages 29-46, those with long or irregular cycles were 39 percent more likely to die prematurely.

The study was published Sept. 30 in BMJ. It drew from the health data of 79,505 healthy premenopausal women, collected as part of the long-running Nurses’ Health Study II.

In a Sept. 30 article in the Guardian, the researchers stressed that irregular menstruation is a symptom, not a diagnosis. It may indicate polycystic ovary syndrome or another condition. Lead author Jorge Chavarro, associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard Chan School, said that women should speak to their doctor if they have concerns about their menstrual cycles.