BRCA mutations 'linked to early menopause'

An early onset of menopause could be linked BRCA mutations that are associated with breast and ovarian cancer, new research has found.

Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center assessed 382 women who carried the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations and another 765 women who were thought not to be carriers of the genetic anomalies.

They found that women with the genetic mutations stopped getting their periods at age 50 on average - three years earlier than the other females in the study.

"The earlier you go into menopause, the more likely you are to not be able to have kids," Dr Mitchell Rosen, one of the researchers, told Reuters Health.

As the study only included white women, it remains unclear whether the findings can be applied to other racial and ethnic groups, stated the doctors.

Around one in 600 US women are thought to have the BRCA mutations.