Menopause before 40 increases type 2 diabetes risk

22 July 2017

Early menopause has been linked to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Early menopause has been linked to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Going through the change is one of life’s milestones for ladies and most women reach menopause between the ages of 45 and 55.

However, it can hit before or after these ages, with new research finding that with females who stop having their periods before the age of 40, there is almost four times more chance they’ll get type 2 diabetes, compared to women who start at 55.

To reach their conclusions scientists from Erasmus University Medical Centre in the Netherlands used data obtained from the Rotterdam Study, and tracked 3,969 postmenopausal women who did not have T2D at the start of the study. They were monitored at three to five-year intervals.

Read more: Eating oily fish and dairy may reduce risk of early menopause

During the research period, 348 women developed T2D. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn't produce enough insulin to function properly, or the body's cells don't react to insulin. This means glucose stays in the blood and isn't used as fuel for energy.

The team found that for every advancing year in the age that a woman underwent the menopause, her chance of developing type two diabetes reduced by four per cent.

In previous research by the team, it was found that women who reach the menopause early are also at greater risk of heart disease, with scientists suggesting that women who reach menopause later are exposed to oestrogen for longer, protecting them against heart disease. They conclude the same may be true for T2D.

The authors also put forward a theory that early menopause may signal an underlying problem of a defective DNA repair system.

Read more: Early or late menopause can lead to type 2 diabetes

“Our findings might suggest that the risk of diabetes related to menopause is already there before menopause begins,” they wrote. “This could explain why other risk factors for diabetes do not explain the link between menopause and type two diabetes – early menopause is an independent marker for diabetes, indicating that something else is the driving force behind this observation, possibly defective DNA repair and maintenance.”

Results have been published in journal Diabetologia.

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