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Number of women’s eggs signals cell ageing and risk of heart disease

| | October 21, 2014

The number of eggs in a woman’s ovaries could tell a lot more than just how fertile she is. It may provide a window onto how fast her cells are ageing and, in particular, reflect her risk of developing heart disease.

Women are born with all of their eggs and, throughout their life, the number they have declines. The onset of menopause is triggered by this decline.

After menopause hits, the risk of heart disease increases. Women who experience it early – before the age of 46 – are at twice the risk of developing heart disease in later life as women who go through menopause at a typical age.

Several factors that coincide with menopause compound this risk, including a shift in the type of cholesterol the body produces, the redistribution of body fat and increased blood pressure. The drop in oestrogen levels is also thought to play a role as the hormone helps keeps blood vessels elastic. But Marcelle Cedars at the University of California, San Francisco, wondered if the increased risk to women who experience early menopause might have a more fundamental cause. “Perhaps women who go through menopause early are intrinsically aging at a different rate,” says Cedars.

Read full, original article: Number of eggs a woman has predicts heart attack risk

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