A new study suggests that women who begin menopause early have a greater risk of developing diabetes. Researchers found that women who started menopause early, before the age of 40, were almost 4 times more likely to develop diabetes than women who started menopause later in life.
The research suggests that estrogen hormones protect the body against diabetes, among other health issues. Compared with women who experienced a late menopause, after the age of 55, those who started menopause early are not only more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, but they are also at a greater risk for heart disease. On the other hand, women who start menopause later in life have more years of oestrogen exposure that protects against heart disease and can also apply to diabetes.
To help identify factors that could potentially impact the findings, the researchers gathered data on the participants. This data included their state of health, medical history, medication, age at menopause onset, physical activity, and whether they had been diagnosed with CVD prior. Since single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are known factors for the early onset of menopause, genetics were also taken into account.
Out of the 3,639 women who did not have diabetes at the beginning of the study, 348 were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes during the follow-up period.
There is a chance that early menopause could indicate a bigger problem – a defective DNA repair system. The study found that the link between sex hormone levels, menopause, and diabetes did not explain the connection with early menopause and the risk of type 2 diabetes. The research suggests that the cause of early menopause could also be the cause of the predisposition to diabetes.
While researchers comment that their findings suggest that the risk of diabetes increases when a woman experiences early menopause, the two are not directly related to each other, but rather both linked to a DNA deficiency. They further explain that more research needs to be done and tested for more possibilities to get a more exact answer.