Why some postmenopausal women are more likely to develop diabetes

Volume 13    |   Issue 35

Menopause brings a lot of changes to women's lives, but one change we don't typically think of is an increased risk for type-2 diabetes. That's because for most women, menopause and type-2 diabetes risk don't seem to be related. But this isn't the case for all women. Fortunately, it's easy to know which group you are more likely to fall into – you just have to count the candles on your birthday cake. And depending on the number, you might want to make your slice of cake a small one.

Researchers identified this risk thanks to data from the Women's Health Initiative. This is a huge study of over 124,000 postmenopausal women that were followed for about 12 years, beginning between 1993 and 1998. The women filled out extensive questionnaires about their health and participated in plenty of follow-up initiatives to provide researchers with data to help them identify and address women's health concerns.

One rather surprising finding was recently published in the journal Menopause. The North American Menopause Society, publisher of the journal, has reported that on average, women experience their last menstrual period at the age of 51. If that's true for you, your risk of developing type-2 diabetes doesn't change. In fact, if you're within about five years of that either way, you don't have cause for concern. But the outliers need to be more cautious.

Researchers found that women who experienced their final period before age 46 were 25% more likely to develop type-2 diabetes than those who entered menopause between the ages of 46 and 55. After 55, the risk goes up again, but this time to 12%.

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Because the decline in estrogen levels means that women tend to experience increases in body fat, appetite, and blood sugar levels, with corresponding decreases in metabolism, it's not necessarily surprising that entering menopause early puts women at a higher risk. However, it's interesting to note that late entry into menopause also carries a risk increase. The researchers aren't sure what causes this increase, but encourage women who enter menopause outside of the 46-to-55 window to be particularly vigilant about taking steps to avoid diabetes.

Of course, while age at menopause is significant, the overall length of a woman's reproductive cycle matters as well. So if you experienced your first period unusually early or late, you should also factor that in, particularly if you enter menopause early or late as well. Women who had lifetime reproductive cycles of less than 30 years were 37% more likely to develop diabetes than those whose cycles lasted between 36 and 40 years. Those with cycles lasting longer than 45 years had a 23% increase in risk.

Our bodies all respond differently to changes in our hormone levels, so it's important to be aware of how yours may be influencing your risk of other diseases that you may not have considered. However, even if you fall within the “safe” windows, you should still be following the same strategies recommended for women who are more prone to developing type-2 diabetes: exercise, eat healthfully, maintain a healthy weight, don't eat dinner too late at night, and don't overdo it on your sugar consumption. By following these healthy habits, you'll reduce your risk of type-2 diabetes whatever the calendar or your cycle says.

If your doctor tells you that your blood sugar is in the high-normal range you may want to consider Advanced Bionutritionals Advanced Blood Sugar Formula as a preventative measure. Many women find that just one or two daily is sufficient to change that trajectory. It works particularly well if you remember to eat an earlier dinner and leave ideally — if possible — 13 hours before eating again.

Better Health and Living for Women,


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