Early menopause may double the risk of osteoporosis in later life, says a new Swedish study.

The observational study began in 1977 and looked at the effects of mortality and frailty in 390 white European women aged 48.

The study group was divided into two: women who began menopause before 47 and those who had menopause after 47. The bone mineral density was measured in all the women.

After about 3 decades, the team found out that, at age 77, the incidence of osteoporosis was higher in women who had early menopause (56 percent) compared to women who had late menopause (30 percent).

Early menopause was also associated with higher risk of death and fractures.

“The results of this study suggest that early menopause is a significant risk factor for osteoporosis, fragility fracture and mortality in a long-term perspective. To our knowledge this is the first perspective study with a follow-up period of more than three decades,” said lead author of the study Ola Svejme, orthopedic surgeon at Skåne University Hospital.

It is estimated that one out of every five American women over the age 50 has osteoporosis. About half of all women over the age of 50 will have a fracture of the hip, wrist, or vertebra.

“In the 19th century the menopause was thought to cause insanity, and it was only as recently as 1980 that the diagnosis of involutional melancholia [paranoia affecting elderly men and women] was removed from the third edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 1. With the development of hormone replacement therapy, treatment of menopausal women shifted from the domains of psychiatry and psychoanalysis to gynecology and endocrinology,” writes Myra S Hunter in an editorial published in the journal BMJ.

According to PubMed, menopause is expected and does not need to be prevented but one can reduce the risks associated with it by adopting a healthier lifestyle like quitting smoking, eating a low-fat diet and exercising regularly. Loss of calcium can be supplemented through diet or medication.