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Menopause is bound to happen. The question is when? Women feel the onset of menopause around the ages of 40 to 58 (the average age being 51) according to the North American Menopause Society. However, recent studies have illustrated some key lifestyle choices that could lead to an earlier onset of menopause. This early onset has larger implications than a decreased duration of your menstrual cycle.

Research has shown that women who undergo menopause earlier are at a higher risk for depression, dementia, osteoporosis, heart disease and stroke. Here are five risk factors for early onset menopause.

1. Smoking

Tobacco usage has a great impact on developing early menopause. Smoking is very bad for the development of estrogen, and average use of tobacco has been proven by studies to speed up your menopause onset by 1 to 2 years. Heavy smokers have an even earlier date with menopause as it activates several different DNA repair mechanisms thought to be associated with colon cancer.

2. Stress

A study entitled, Onset of Natural Menopause in African American Women listed a number of factors that contributed to early onset menopause. Stress was one of the factors mentioned. The body is very responsive to the psychological stress we go through and scientists believe that stress releases a variety of hormones into your body that tell your ovulation cycle to stop. Women from harsh economic conditions face an 80% chance of developing early menopause according to a Boston University School of Public Health study.

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