Exercise and weight control can cut the odds for older women even further, researchers say
Menopause does not raise a woman's odds of developing diabetes, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Michigan Health System found this was true for both women who underwent natural menopause and those who had their ovaries removed.
"In our study, menopause had no additional effect on risk for diabetes," the study's lead author, Dr. Catherine Kim, associate professor of internal medicine and obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan Health System, said in a universitynews release. "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."
In conducting the study, published in the August issue of Menopause, researchers examined more than 1,200 women between the ages of 40 and 65 with what's known as glucose intolerance (a pre-stage to diabetes characterized by high blood sugar levels).
The study found that for every year 100 women were 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.
Meanwhile, women who had their ovaries removed but also lost 7 percent of their body weight and exercised for at least 150 minutes per week actually saw a decline in their risk for diabetes. The researchers found that for every year 100 of these women were followed, only 1.1 of them developed the disease.
The results among this group, the study authors pointed out, were surprising considering that nearly all of the women who had their ovaries removed were on hormone replacement therapy -- a treatment that may put them at risk for an array of health problems. They added that additional research is needed on the role of hormone therapy and diabetes risk.
"Physicians can be empowered to tell women that lifestyle changes can be very effective, and that menopause does not mean that they have a higher risk of diabetes," concluded Kim.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine provides more information on menopause.