Menopause may not increase risk for or exacerbate symptoms of type 2 diabetes

While type 2 diabetes can occur during any stage of life, the odds that individuals will develop this condition increase as they age.

According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 25 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, and type 2 diabetes accounts for as much a 95 percent of these cases.

Women may be especially concerned about their diabetes risk as they enter menopause, since increased amounts of testosterone in the body have been associated with the development of the metabolic disorder.



However, a recent study published in the journal Menopause indicated that the end of a woman's reproductive years doesn't necessarily mean that she will be more likely to progress from having pre-diabetes to type 2 diabetes, especially if she makes healthy lifestyle changes during this time.

The research involved a group of participants who took part in the Diabetes Prevention Program because they had been shown to have glucose intolerance, a marker of pre-diabetes.

The study's results showed that there was little difference in the risk of developing full-on type 2 diabetes among women who were either premenopausal, postmenopausal or those in whom menopause was induced because they had their ovaries removed for medical reasons.

Furthermore, women who lost 7 percent of their body weight and exercised for 150 minutes per week actually had a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, despite the common belief that lower estrogen production increases the odds of the metabolic disorder occurring.

"In our study, menopause had no additional effect on risk for diabetes. Menopause is one of many small steps in aging and it doesn't mean women's health will be worse after going through this transition," said lead study author Catherine Kim, MD.

Individuals who have pre-diabetes and want to avoid type 2 diabetes may consider following a diabetic diet and exercise regimen. Some physicians may also recommend that their patients with pre-diabetes take medications like metformin in order to help control their blood sugar levels.
First published on: July 27, 2011