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Although the menstrual cycle of most women works like clockwork for some the process is not easy. An average period should last a few days but sometimes women do experience irregular and longer periods and this is a risk according to a new study that established that it can result in premature death or heart diseases.

Irregular and longer periods linked to cardiovascular disease

US-based researchers have indicated that long and irregular menstrual cycles during teenage years and adults can increase the chances of death before one reaches 70 years. Early death was linked to cardiovascular disease and for those who smoke, there were increased poor health outcomes. The menstrual cycle prepares the body for pregnancy and it occurs between adolescence and menopause an indicator that the female body is working normally. Health experts have also warned that heavy and painful periods could also be indications of a problem.

According to the study, experiencing abnormal menstrual cycles is a common thing for those within the pregnancy window. Although it could be common it can increase chronic diseases risk such as Type II diabetes, ovarian cancer, heart disease, and mental health conditions. However, researchers indicate that despite the risks there is thin evidence linking irregular menstrual cycles to premature death.

Women with cycles of more than 40 days at risk of premature death

The study looked at around 80,000 premenopausal women around 38 years. The study population didn’t have a history of cardiovascular problems, diabetes, or cancer at the start of the over two decades of study. Participants documented menstrual cycle history between 14-17, 18-22 and 29-46 years with the group followed up for 24 years to establish how the women fared.

During the study, 1,975 women died prematurely include 172 from heart diseases and 894 from cancer. The study demonstrates a difference between women with regular periods and those with irregular when lifestyles, age medical histories, and weight are considered. The length in between periods was a predictor of early death and for women whose cycle came every 40 days or longer.