Diabetes: The symptom in women that could raise the risk of the condition developing 17%

Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert

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New research from Australia has examined a potential risk factor for a variety of metabolic diseases.

Women with irregular periods are 17 percent more likely to develop diabetes over a 20 year period, according to the study published in the Journal Clinical Endocrinology.

The study also identified these people were 20 percent more likely to develop cardiovascular disease.

The researchers say that screening programs for these conditions should be extended to people who suffer from early menopause and polycystic ovary syndrome.

The investigators used data available on 82,439 nurses who were first examined in 1982.

Follow ups were were performed over a 20 year period to examine any changes in medical status.

Data on menstrual regularity was self reported by participants.

A similar study published in JAMA identified a similar trend among women with cycles longer than 40 days.

The research raises the possibility that hormone replacement therapies (HRT) change the level of risk.

Women who did not use hormone replacement therapy and had irregular cycles saw a 30 percent increase in diabetes risk.

The researchers found that this was not significant after adjusting for other factors.

One review looking specifically at HRT suggested that that the therapy is associated to lower risk of developing diabetes.

The researchers note that the results do not prove any causal relationship.

Assistant professor of obstetrics and gynaecology, Rachel Urrutia, MD was not involved in the research.

She told Everyday Health: “Most experts think that underlying health problems that cause irregular periods also cause a higher chance of cardiovascular disease and other metabolic diseases.

“Although this is not a new finding per se, it reinforces findings from other places.”

The researchers suggest that irregular menstrual cycles be added as a risk factor for screening, so that these people can be tested for heart disease and diabetes.

The NHS currently offers health checks for over 40s at intervals of five years.

These search for early signs of stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes and dementia.

Identifying early warning signs can allow for preventative treatments such as medications to lower blood pressure.

The researchers note that the diabetes is far from the only condition that has been linked to menopause.

They wrote: “premature and early menopause are associated with chronic conditions including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, arthritis, osteoporosis, breast cancer, depression and anxiety.”

Many of these conditions, such as hypertension and heart disease, interact with each other and increase the risk of developing other conditions.

Hypertension is a common risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

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