Now to understand the underlying reason why women who cease menstruation relatively late in life live far longer requires background information. The fact that late-onset menopause results in a prolonged lifespan is indisputable. The reason why, though obvious, escapes recognition.
First, to establish super-longevity occurs among women who enter menopause later in life. A recent study sheds light on this topic. Exceptional longevity for the purposes of this study was defined as survival to age 90. More than half (55%) of the 16,251 women survived to 90. Analysis shows those women whose ovaries shut down earlier in life tended to not live as long as women who experience late-onset menopause. The more years women were fertile and produced offspring resulted in longer life. [Menopause July 25, 2016]
The Long Life Family Study in New England and the New England Centenarian Study also found that women whose last birth was after 40 years of age are more likely to live longer. [Journal Perinatal Medicine July 21, 2016]
The explanation for female longevity advantage over males is that women begin to accumulate iron later in life (around age 42-51 years of age) when female hormones decline. On the other hand, males begin to accumulate iron after full growth is achieved and the demand for iron to make new red blood cells diminishes. That occurs ~age 18-30 in men. [Antioxidant Redox Signaling Dec 2009]
Men accumulate and store excess iron earlier in life than women. By age 40 a man has twice as much stored iron and double the rate of diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
The striking problem is that modern medicine does nothing to address eventual iron overload, which is a universal problem.
I have written elsewhere that the ancient practice of blood letting would effectively treat and prevent most age-related disease. Imagine phlebotomy clinics geographically dotted through throughout the country.
When one realizes this actually existed in the form of barber shops in the middle ages where barbers with their skill in using sharp blades to shave men’s beards doubled as phlebotomists. [History.com] And we call that the dark ages? They just didn’t have a hemoglobin test to guide them.
Every time a woman menstruates she loses iron. That is nature’s substitute for blood letting. Females, being the baby carriers must be protected from disease. A shortage of iron protects against infectious and metabolic disease. [Emerging Infectious Diseases May 1999; Journal Alzheimer’s Disease May 2008]
Consider the elaborate system of controlling iron in the body via attachment to hemoglobin, albumin, ferritin, lactoferrin and melanin. In a perfect state of health these is no loose (unattached) iron in the body, what is called free iron. [Journal Pharmacy Pharmacology May 2006]
Iron chelators (key-lay-tors) in the diet that bind to iron in later life can restore a youthful state. These natural chelators are found in tea, cinnamon, bran, berries and spices. Or they can be obtained in concentrated forms as dietary supplements (IP6 phytate extracted from bran, quercetin extracted from apple peel), or garlic).
The stark fact is women are educated and acclimated to being anemic for the first part of their adult life but are never re-educated about the opposite situation once menopause sets in. Women may be interested in knowing that as iron storage levels (ferritin) rise they parallel the onset of hot flashes in menopause. [Antioxidant Redox Signaling Dec 2009]Likewise, women who are on estrogen replacement experience improved iron binding and control of iron. [Journal Women’s Health Gender Based Medicine March 2000] Indeed, use of estrogen is associated with lower iron storage levels (ferritin) and greater control of iron. [Maturitas June 2016] But in a misdirection, women have been frightened away from estrogen therapy. Estrogen replacement is a longevity strategy. [Andrologia Feb 2016] In lieu of estrogen, women may employ plant-based estrogen-like molecules to their diet. [Biological Chemistry March 2008; FEBS Letters May 2005] The red wine molecule resveratrol is probably the safest at 1/7000th the strength of estrogen.
So how to delay menopause? Vegetarian diets, high-fat diets, and coffee accelerate the onset of menopause. [Medical Review 2002]
Moderate alcohol consumption (probably via red wine molecules like resveratrol) help delay the onset of menopause. Smoking tobacco and vigorous exercise are associated with early menopause. [Journal Midlife Health Jan 2014] Tea consumption is linked with longer fertility (likely because of tea’s iron controlling molecules). [Menopause Sept 2008]