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Impact of Type 2 Diabetes on Menopause

Menopause and type 2 diabetes

Women who develop type 2 diabetes at a young age may have a surprise as they approach menopause. According to a study appearing in Climacteric, females younger than 45 who have the disease are significantly more likely to experience early menopause. The authors also reported several other interesting findings concerning women and type 2 diabetes.

Read about women and risk factors for type 2 diabetes

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At the University of Cartagena, Colombia, more than 6,000 women between the ages of 40 and 59 from eleven different countries in Latin America were questioned about diabetes, menopause, and depression. Their responses were then correlated with factors such as use of hormone replacement therapy, blood pressure, and weight.

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Here’s what the researchers found:

  • Women younger than 45 who have type 2 diabetes are nearly three times more likely to experience early menopause. How early? Among nondiabetic women, menopause occurs at an average of 50.1 years as compared with 48.5 years in this study
  • Use of hormone replacement therapy increased a woman’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 14 percent. This finding was in contrast to earlier research.
  • Women who had a body mass index of 30 or greater were 57 percent more likely to have diabetes
  • The presence of high blood pressure increased the risk of diabetes by 87 percent
  • Women who lived at an altitude of greater than 2,500 meters had a 26 percent lower risk of developing diabetes
  • Women who consumed low or moderate amounts of alcohol had a lower risk of diabetes while those who consumed large amounts had a higher risk of diabetes

Read about menopause and your mind

What do the menopause findings mean for women? If you are a younger woman who has type 2 diabetes, you could expect to go through menopause earlier than you thought.

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Read about early menopause

Type 2 diabetes risk and menopause
What about the other side of the question: Is there an association between menopause and a woman’s risk of type 2 diabetes?

That question was explored in another recent study appearing in Diabetes Care. The results were from the EPIC-InterAct study, which included information from 3,691 postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes and 4,408 other members who were followed for 11 years.

The investigators discovered that women who had an early menopause had a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Smoking, body mass index, and waist circumference did not have an effect on this finding.

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Based on the findings of these two different studies, it appears that type 2 diabetes and menopause have a relationship that requires more research. For now, women may want to think about how the information may affect them on an individual basis, depending on their age, diabetes status, and other personal factors.

Brand JS et al. Age at menopause, reproductive life span, and type 2 diabetes risk: results from the EPIC-InterAct study. Diabetes Care 2013 Apr; 36(4): 1012-19
Monterrosa-Castro A et al. Type II diabetes mellitus and menopause: a multinational study. Climacteric 2013 Dec; 16(6): 663-72

Photo: Gary Soup