Ladies, you know the only thing worse than going through "the change" is having to deal with it years earlier than you expected.

Today, more women than ever are suffering from early menopause -- and a new study finds common household chemicals may be the reason.

Researchers looked at data on nearly 26,000 women between the ages of 18 and 65, including blood levels of perfluorocarbons (PFCs) -- hormone-disrupting chemicals found in everything from clothing to cookware.

When they isolated data on women between the ages of 42 and 51, they found that those with the highest blood levels of PFCs were 40 percent more likely to have already experienced menopause than those with low levels, according to the study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Naturally, the chemicals industry is already blabbering about how the study doesn't prove a link -- but since these are the same people who want you to think BPA and phthalates are safe, you can't take it from them.

Take it from me instead: One major PFC, the chemical PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate), is known to lower levels of estradiol -- a form of estrogen.

The lower your estradiol, the earlier your menopause -- and the earlier the menopause, the higher the risks you'll face in your later years: Studies have found that women who go through the change early are more likely to battle everything from heart disease to osteoporosis.

The best way to avoid exposure to PFCs -- and believe me, you want to avoid them even if you've already gone through menopause -- is to skip products that claim to be stain-resistant, waterproof, no-stick, flame-retardant, etc.

All of those properties are created by PFCs, proving again that "better living through chemistry" can come with a terrible price tag.