Mean age at natural menopause in the developed world is 51.4, but the range – 40 to 58 – is wide. Race or ethnicity, one of many factors that can influence timing of menopause, was examined in the Multiethnic Cohort Study, a population-based sample of women living in Los Angeles and Hawaii. More than 95,000 menopausal women (mean age, 59.7) with no histories of breast, ovarian, or endometrial cancers completed self-administered questionnaires. Respondents included women of Japanese descent (28%), non-Latina white women (25%), black women (19%), US-born Latina women (11%), non-US-born Latina women (10%), and Native Hawaiian women (7%). Age at natural menopause was analyzed by category (<45, 45-59, 50-54, and 55).
Age at menopause was similar between black and whites. Latinas experienced menopause earlier than did white women (hazard ratios 1.25 and 1.10 for non-US-born and US-born Latinas, respectively). Women of Japanese descent entered menopause later than did whites (HR, 0.93) whereas Native Hawaiians entered menopause slightly earlier than did whites (HR, 1.05). BMI, ages at menarche and at first full-term pregnancy, years of oral contraceptive use, parity, and smoking status varied among the groups. Smoking, earlier menarche, lower parity, and lower BMI were each associated with earlier menopause, but adjustment for these factors did not significantly alter the effect of ethnicity or race.