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    Study: Postmenopausal vasomotor symptoms associated with increased diabetes risk

    A study published in Menopause has found an association between postmenopausal vasomotor symptoms (VMS), including hot flashes and night sweats, and elevated risk of diabetes. Women with more severe night sweats, with or without hot flashes, were found to be at the highest risk of diabetes.

    The researchers looked at 150,007 postmenopausal Women’s Health initiative participants from 1993 to 2014 and examined associations between incident diabetes and VMS characteristics at enrollment. These characteristics included any VMS, severity (mild/moderate/severe), type (hot flashes/night sweats), timing (early [premenopausal or perimenopausal]/late [postmenopausal]), and duration. The researchers used Cox proportional hazard models to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).

    Of the total population that was studied, 33% of the women had experienced VMS. Those that reported VMS saw an 18% increase in diabetes risk (95% CI 1.14, 1.22). The risk increased with severity of VMS (mild: HR 1.13, 95% CI 1.08, 1.17; moderate: HR 1.29, 95% CI 1.22, 1.36; severe: HR 1.48, 95% CI 1.34, 1.62) and duration (4% per 5 years, 95% CI 1.03, 1.05), independent of obesity. For women who reported night sweats, the diabetes risk was even higher (night sweats only: HR 1.20, 95% CI 1.13, 1.26; night sweats and hot flashes: HR 1.22, 95% CI 1.17, 1.27).  Women who reported hot flashes absent any night sweats had a HR of 1.08 (95% CI 1.02, 1.15).

    Because women with diabetes have a higher risk of being hospitalized for or dying from diabetes and diabetic complications, the authors believe their work is valuable since it can help identify and manage diabetes in a timelier manner and promote earlier conversations among patients and physicians about behavior modification and other steps to reduce risks. 

    Ben Schwartz
    Ben Schwartz is Associate Editor, Contemporary OB/GYN.


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