Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, Vol 52, Issue 1 B78-B92, Copyright © 1997 by The Gerontological Society of America
Postmenopausal acceleration of age-related mortality increase
Laboratory of Populations, Rockefeller University, New York City, USA. [email protected]
The force of natural selection to eliminate deleterious genes is attenuated
with advancing age, allowing senescence to evolve. This suggests that a
distinctly marked end of the reproduction period is likely to be followed
by an acceleration of senescence. It is thus expected that menopause should
trigger an acceleration of age-related mortality increase in human females.
Such an abrupt initiation of mortality acceleration is not predicted for
human males at the same ages, whose fecundity declines more gradually. Life
table aging rate patterns for selected industrialized countries generally
support this hypothesis. A cause-of-death decomposition analysis indicates
that the sex differential in mortality acceleration is mainly due to
cardiovascular diseases, which is consistent with the prevalent view that
postmenopausal changes in the sex hormone status may affect lipoprotein
metabolism, and in turn, raise the risk of arteriosclerosis.