• menarche;
  • meta-analysis;
  • ovarian neoplasms;
  • reproductive factor


Epidemiological studies have reported inconsistent associations between menarcheal age and ovarian cancer risk. To our knowledge, a meta-analysis for the association between menarcheal age and ovarian cancer has not been reported. Relevant published studies of menarcheal age and ovarian cancer were identified using MEDLINE, EMBASE and Web of Science through the end of April 2012. Two authors (T-T.G. and Q-J.W.) independently assessed eligibility and extracted data. We pooled the relative risks (RRs) from individual studies using a random-effects model and performed heterogeneity and publication bias analyses. A total of 27 observational studies consisting of 22 case–control and five cohort studies were included in our analysis. In a pooled analysis of all studies, a statistically significant inverse association was observed between menarcheal age (for the oldest compared to the youngest category) and ovarian cancer risk (RR = 0.85; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.75–0.97). The pooled RRs of ovarian cancer for the oldest versus the youngest categories of menarcheal age in prospective and case–control studies were 0.89 (95% CI = 0.76–1.03) and 0.84 (95% CI = 0.70–0.99), respectively. Inverse associations between menarcheal age and ovarian cancer risk were observed in most subgroups; however, the significant association was restricted to invasive and borderline serous ovarian cancer. In conclusion, findings from this meta-analysis support that menarcheal age was inversely associated with the risk of ovarian cancer. More large studies are warranted to stratify these results by different cancer grading and histotype of ovarian cancer.