Tel Aviv University researchers are concerned that girls are reaching puberty at an increasingly earlier age, and this trend to rapid maturity continues through women's adult lives.
They found that women today are 2.5 times more likely to develop Hyperostosis Frontalis Interna (HFI), a hormonal condition once typically found in post-menopausal women, earlier and more frequently than the female population a century ago.
Women's hormonal balances are changing and taking a physical toll, says Prof. Israel Hershkovitz and his graduate student Hila May of TAU's Sackler Faculty of Medicine, together with Dr. Natan Peled of Carmel Medical Center in Haifa.
That balance is being affected by the hormones we now consume in our food and by our changing fertility patterns, such as having children later in life.
HFI occurs when a hormonal imbalance leads to the growth of lesions, or bone masses, in the inner skull.
This may lead to symptoms such as chronic headaches, weight gain, and thyroid irregularities, and is suspected to have multiple causes, including lifestyle, fertility habits, nutrition, and environment.
An age-dependent condition, HFI was once known to primarily strike post-menopausal women, who had then been exposed moderate levels of estrogen throughout their lives.
Now it is appearing as well in pre-menopausal women, who have been exposed to higher levels of estrogen earlier in their lifetimes.
Their research recently appeared in the American Journal of Human Biology.