HealthDay News — Women who have a later natural menopause maintain a small benefit in verbal memory compared with women with earlier menopause, according to a study published in Neurology.

Diana Kuh, Ph.D., from University College London, and colleagues analyzed data from 1,315 women participating in the Medical Research Council National Survey of Health and Development to assess ties between cognitive performance and timing of menopause.

The researchers found that verbal memory increased with later age at natural menopause (P = 0.001). This association remained to a lesser extent after adjusting for other factors (P = 0.013).

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Later age at surgical menopause also increased verbal memory (P = 0.002); however, after adjustment this association was no longer significant. Processing speed was not found to be associated with age at natural menopause.

“Our findings suggest lifelong hormonal processes, not just short-term fluctuations during the menopause transition, may be associated with verbal memory, consistent with evidence from a variety of neurobiological studies; mechanisms are likely to involve estrogen receptor β function,” the authors write. “Further follow-up is required to assess fully the clinical significance of these associations.”

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