Genes switching on menstruation identified

May 18th, 2009 - 5:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Peninsula Medical School Washington, May 18 (IANS) In findings that could improve understanding of human growth, researchers have identified two genes that switch on the process of menstruation among women. The finding could help scientists address short stature and increased body weight, as both are connected to early onset of menstruation.
In general, girls who start menstruation earlier in life tend to have greater body mass index (BMI), a measure of fat, and higher ratio of fat compared to those who begin menstruation later.

The study carried out an analysis of 17,510 women across eight different international population-based sources. This number included women of European descent, who reported the age at which they reached menstruation as between nine and 17 years.

The two genes identified were on chromosomes nine and six. One in 20 women carry two copies of each of the gene variations which result in menstruation starting earlier, and they will start menstruating approximately four and half months earlier than those with no copies of the gene variants.

Anna Murray from the Peninsula Medical School said: “This study provides the first evidence that common genetic variants influence the time at which women reach sexual maturation. Our findings also indicate a genetic basis for the associations between early menstruation and both height and BMI.”

“The study takes us nearer to understanding the biology of the processes involved in puberty and early growth and to understand what constitutes ‘normal’ in growth and development,” she added, according to a Peninsula release.

The work will be published in Nature Genetics next weekend.

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