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Early menopause in women raises the risk for type 2 diabetes, research shows

Early menopause

(NaturalNews) Going through menopause is generally an unwelcome experience at any age, but new research shows that women who experience "the change" earlier in life have extra reason to be concerned.

A new study from Oregon's Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research shows that women who have their last menstrual period before their 46th birthday are 25 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Women who experience not only early menopause but also late puberty have a nearly 40 percent higher risk of developing the condition.

The researchers analyzed data taken from nearly 125,000 women between the ages of 50 and 79 who have already undergone menopause. They looked at their ages at their first and last period, weight, height and overall medical history.

None of the women had diabetes when the study began, and after 12 years, those who had gone through menopause either very early or very late were more likely to have type 2 diabetes.

The number of years that passed between a woman's first period and her last one, known as "reproductive span," was also a significant factor. The women whose reproductive span numbered less than 30 years were 37 percent more likely to come down with the condition. The average woman is fertile for 36 to 40 years.

Low estrogen levels to blame

The connection between early menopause and diabetes is believed to be linked to a lack of exposure to estrogen. Low estrogen levels fuel appetite and are also connected to high levels of blood sugar. Because women's estrogen levels drop when they reach menopause, those who undergo it earlier in life will end up with a lower overall exposure to the hormone throughout their lifetime.

At menopause women's appetites typically increase in response to the drop in estrogen. Their metabolisms slow, and they start accumulating fat, particularly in the belly area, which is another diabetes risk factor.

The study's lead researcher, Dr. Erin LeBlanc, believes that the hormone has a "sweet spot" because either too much or too little of it seems to affect a woman's diabetes risk. She said the optimal window when it comes to diabetes risk and menopause is between age 45 and 55.

She added: "Women who start menopause before or after that window should be aware they are at higher risk, and should be especially vigilant about reducing obesity, eating a healthy diet and exercising. These lifestyle changes will help to reduce their risk for type 2 diabetes."

Change your diet and exercise habits now to reduce your diabetes risk

There isn't much women can do to control when they actually hit menopause, but they can do plenty to curb their risk of diabetes. First and foremost is eating a diet that is very low in sugar and packed full of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. If you're not already in the habit of eating plenty of fresh produce by the time you reach menopause, it's time to make a really big change.

Growing your own vegetables using clever gardening solutions like the Food Rising Mini-Farm Grow Box can make the process a lot more fun and engaging, and the fruits and vegetables you grow will be cleaner than the varieties you can buy at the store. It's also a highly convenient way to ensure you always have the produce you need on hand.

Getting lots of exercise can also help reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, so it's time to start moving your body more. Taking regular walks is a great way to get that exercise in while also reaping the benefits of fresh air and being out in nature – and bringing along a friend or family member can make the minutes fly by. As you get older, diet and exercise become increasingly important in maintaining your health, and it's never too late to introduce some healthy habits.

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