Early menopause can increase a woman's risk of type 2 diabetes - as can a shorter reproductive life span, researchers have found.
But one of them, Dr Yvonne T van der Schouw of University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands, told Reuters Health by email, "I do not think the findings have direct clinical implications."
"In the future," she added, "the findings of the current study might prove to be relevant for the prevention of diabetes in women."
As reported online in Diabetes Care, Dr van der Schouw and colleagues examined data from a study on the interaction of genetics, lifestyle and diabetes. They selected 3 691 incident postmenopausal type 2 diabetes case subjects and 4 408 other postmenopausal controls.
How the study was done
The mean age at entry to the subcohort was 59.2 years. The mean age at menopause was 48.6 years, and 4.8% of the women had their menopause before 40 years of age.
Using an age at menopause of 50 to 54 years as a reference, and after a median follow-up of 11 years, the adjusted hazard ratios for diabetes were 1.32 in women who had menopause before age 40, 1.09 for those aged 40 to 44, 0.97 for ages 45 to 49, and 0.85 for age 55 or more.
Shorter reproductive life span (defined as menopausal age minus age at menarche) also showed a similarly increased risk of diabetes. The hazard ratio per SD younger age at menopause was 1.08. The corresponding hazard ratio per SD lower reproductive life span was 1.06.
Stratification by smoking history and indicators of obesity, including waist circumference, did not modify the effect. This was also true of other factors including use of hormone replacement therapy.
Dr van der Schouw pointed out that "early menopause might be a factor to take into account when considering diabetes screening or direct preventive action."
"However," she concluded, "before we start acting in early menopausal women, studies are needed to establish whether timing of menopause has any added value in diabetes prediction and prevention."
(David Douglas, Reuters Health, December 2012)
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