STUDY QUESTION: Do women who have diabetes before menopause have their menopause at an earlier age compared with women without diabetes?
SUMMARY ANSWER: Although there was no overall association between diabetes and age at menopause, our study suggests that early-onset diabetes may accelerate menopause.
WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Today, more women of childbearing age are being diagnosed with diabetes, but little is known about the impact of diabetes on reproductive health.
STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: We investigated the impact of diabetes on age at natural menopause (ANM) in 258 898 women from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), enrolled between 1992 and 2000.
PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: Determinant and outcome information was obtained through questionnaires. Time-dependent Cox regression analyses were used to estimate the associations of diabetes and age at diabetes diagnosis with ANM, stratified by center and adjusted for age, smoking, reproductive and diabetes risk factors and with age from birth to menopause or censoring as the underlying time scale.
MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: Overall, no association between diabetes and ANM was found (hazard ratio (HR) = 0.94; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.89-1.01). However, women with diabetes before the age of 20 years had an earlier menopause (10-20 years: HR = 1.43; 95% CI 1.02-2.01, <10 years: HR = 1.59; 95% CI 1.03-2.43) compared with non-diabetic women, whereas women with diabetes at age 50 years and older had a later menopause (HR = 0.81; 95% CI 0.70-0.95). None of the other age groups were associated with ANM.
LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: Strengths of the study include the large sample size and the broad set of potential confounders measured. However, results may have been underestimated due to survival bias. We cannot be sure about the sequence of the events in women with a late age at diabetes, as both events then occur in a short period. We could not distinguish between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: Based on the literature, an accelerating effect of early-onset diabetes on ANM might be plausible. A delaying effect of late-onset diabetes on ANM has not been reported before, and is not in agreement with recent studies suggesting the opposite association.
STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTERESTS: The coordination of EPIC is financially supported by the European Commission (DG-SANCO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. The national cohorts are supported by Danish Cancer Society (Denmark); Ligue Contre le Cancer, Institut Gustave Roussy, Mutuelle Générale de l'Education Nationale, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) (France); German Cancer Aid, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMMF) (Germany); Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity, Stavros Niarchos Foundation and Hellenic Health Foundation (Greece); Italian Association for Research on Cancer (AIRC) and National Research Council (Italy); Dutch Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sports (VWS), Netherlands Cancer Registry (NKR), LK Research Funds, Dutch Prevention Funds, Dutch ZON (Zorg Onderzoek Nederland), World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), Statistics Netherlands (The Netherlands); ERC-2009-AdG 232997 and Nordforsk, Nordic Centre of Excellence programme on Food, Nutrition and Health (Norway); Health Research Fund (FIS), Regional Governments of Andalucía, Asturias, Basque Country, Murcia (no. 6236) and Navarra, ISCIII RETIC (RD06/0020) (Spain); Swedish Cancer Society, Swedish Scientific Council and Regional Government of Skåne and Västerbotten (Sweden); Cancer Research UK, Medical Research Council, Stroke Association, British Heart Foundation, Department of Health, Food Standards Agency, and Wellcome Trust (UK). None of the authors reported a conflict of interest.
- Cohort Studies
- Diabetes Complications
- Middle Aged
- Journal Article
- Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't