RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Endocrine characteristics of adolescent menstrual cycles: impact of early menarche.

An initial group of 200 girls, 7-17 years old, was investigated longitudinally 4 times at 1.5-, 1.5- and 5-year intervals. The present study gives information of the impact of early menarche, a risk factor for breast cancer, on some physical and endocrine characteristics in these subjects. The frequency of ovulation depended significantly on both the time since menarche and the age at menarche. Early menarche was associated with early onset of ovulatory cycles. Even in early puberty, before menarche, the subjects who displayed early menarche during follow-up had higher serum FSH and estradiol concentrations than the girls whose menarche took place after the age of 13.0 years. Adrenal androgen secretion (dehydroepiandrosterone) was not influenced by age at menarche but it increased, as expected, on the basis of chronological age. The group with early menarche was characterized by high circulating estradiol concentrations also after menarche, even in the oldest subjects so far studied, 17-25 years of chronological age. At these ages, the differences in the frequencies of ovulatory cycles were disappearing between the groups formed on the basis of age at menarche. The present findings in pre- and postmenarcheal subjects suggest that the increased risk of breast cancer associated with early menarche is created over several years of exposure to high-level estrogen stimulus.

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