Type 2 diabetes affects about a tenth of all adults globally. Studies have typically focused on white men, but we know women may have unique risk factors for and predispositions towards type 2 diabetes – including menopause.
Recent research at the University of Queensland used data from across the world to make the links clearer between age of menopause, ethnicity, and risk of type 2 diabetes in women.
This analysis used data from InterLACE, a collection of observational studies of women in Australia, the UK, Japan, China, the Netherlands and Sweden. Data from more than 350,000 women who had experienced natural menopause were analysed. They reported their age at menopause, as well as whether and when they were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes after menopause, indicated by personal report or medical records. The data also included various factors like ethnicity, BMI, smoking habits and hormone therapy to understand their potential impact on the results.
Over nine years, 5.9 per cent of women developed type 2 diabetes. Women who went through menopause before the age of 45, and especially those before the age of 40 (premature menopause) had a higher chance of developing diabetes compared to those who experienced it later. This increased risk was evident across multiple ethnicities – including white, South and South-East Asian and black women. Late menopause did not increase diabetes risk in any group.
5-10% of women in developed countries experience early menopause, with even higher rates in developing nations. The authors say recognising these women as higher risk can help clinicians ensure they receive proper health monitoring and preventive measures.
Ethnic Differences in the Association Between Age at Natural Menopause and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Among Postmenopausal Women: A Pooled Analysis of Individual Data From 13 Cohort Studies: American Diabetes Association