Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Relationship between arsenic skin lesions and the age of natural menopause

Fakir Md Yunus1*, Musarrat Jabeen Rahman2, Md Zahidul Alam3, Samar Kumar Hore4 and Mahfuzar Rahman56

Author Affiliations

1 BRAC Research and Evaluation Division, BRAC Centre, 75 Mohakhali, Dhaka 1212, Bangladesh

2 ICDDR, B – Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Research Group, Center for Communicable Diseases (CCD), Moyeen Center, House-9b, Road-3, Gulshan-1, Dhaka 1212, Bangladesh

3 Department of Biology, University of Texas at Arlington, 76010 Arlington, TX, USA

4 ICDDR, B- Chronic Disease Epidemiology and Genetics Research Group, Centre for Control of Chronic Diseases (CCCD), 68 Shahid Tajuddin Ahmed Sharani, Mohakhali, Dhaka 1212, Bangladesh

5 ICDDR, B – Public Health Sciences Division, the Centre for Health and Population Research, 68 Shahid Tajuddin Ahmed Sharani, Mohakhali, Dhaka 1212, Bangladesh

6 UChicago Research Bangladesh, House 4, Road 2B, Sector 4, Uttara, Dhaka, Bangladesh

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2014, 14:419  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-419

Published: 2 May 2014



Chronic exposure to arsenic is associated with neoplastic, cardiovascular, endocrine, neuro-developmental disorders and can have an adverse effect on women’s reproductive health outcomes. This study examined the relationship between arsenic skin lesions (a hallmark sign of chronic arsenic poisoning) and age of natural menopause (final menopausal period) in populations with high levels of arsenic exposure in Bangladesh.


We compared menopausal age in two groups of women – with and without arsenic skin lesions; and presence of arsenic skin lesions was used as an indicator for chronic arsenic exposure. In a cross-sectional study, a total of 210 participants were randomly identified from two ongoing studies— participants with arsenic skin lesions were identified from an ongoing clinical trial and participants with no arsenic skin lesions were identified from an ongoing cohort study. Mean age of menopause between these two groups were calculated and compared. Multivariable linear regression was used to estimate the relationship between the status of the arsenic skin lesions and age of natural menopause in women.


Women with arsenic skin lesions were 1.5 years younger (p <0.001) at the time of menopause compared to those without arsenic skin lesions. After adjusting with contraceptive use, body mass index, urinary arsenic level and family history of premature menopause, the difference between the groups’ age at menopause was 2.1 years earlier (p <0.001) for respondents with arsenic skin lesions.


The study showed a statistically significant association between chronic exposure to arsenic and age at menopause. Heavily exposed women experienced menopause two years earlier than those with lower or no exposure.

Arsenic skin lesions; Arsenic exposure; Age of Menopause; Reproductive period; Epidemiology