Does Menopause Increase Risk of Diabetes?

menopauseBy Dr. Victor Marchione

It is an idea that has been hinted at for some time, and its answer is important for all middle-aged women. Does menopause influence one’s risk for type 2 diabetes? With the latest health news, it’s time to don a smile, because researchers found the answer to be “no.”

Postmenopausal women had no higher risk for diabetes whether they experienced natural menopause or had their ovaries removed,according to the national clinical trial of 1,237 women at high risk for diabetes, ages 40 to 65.

In other words, menopause had no additional effect on risk for diabetes. Menopause remains one of many small steps in aging and it doesn’t mean women’s health will be worse after going through this transition. The results are published in the August issue of “Menopause.”

The findings also shed light on the impact of diet and exercise and hormone replacement therapy on the health of postmenopausal women. Previous studies had shown that menopause could speed the progression to diabetes because of the higher levels of testosterone. All the women in the study had “glucose intolerance,” meaning their bodies struggled to process blood sugar into energy.

The researchers have shown that lifestyle interventions can help prevent diabetes in those with glucose intolerance. These interventions work well in women who have gone through menopause.

According to the new study, for every year 100 women observed, 11.8 premenopausal women developed diabetes, compared to 10.5 among women in natural menopause and 12.9 cases among women who had their ovaries removed.

But for those who had their ovaries removed and engaged in lifestyle changes, the rate of diabetes plummeted to 1.1. Those changes included losing seven percent of their body weight (that would be 12.6 pounds for a 180-pound woman) and exercising for at least 150 minutes a week.

They found these results surprising, as the women had gone on hormone-replacement therapy, which many fear escalates the risk for many health issues. The message to take away from this is that lifestyle changes to shed pounds could reduce your risk of developing diabetes.

About the Author
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