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Reaction: Study associates early menstruation with increased risk of diabetes and stroke in adulthood

An early first menstrual period (menarche) - compared with the average of 13 years - is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in women under the age of 65 and also with an increased risk of stroke among those living with diabetes, says a study published in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health. The research analyses data from a national health survey in the US, focusing on women aged 20-65 between 1999 and 2018.

06/12/2023 - 00:30 CET
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Nicolás Mendoza - primera regla EN

Nicolás Mendoza Ladrón de Guevara

Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Granada, president of the Spanish Foundation for the Study of the Menopause (FEEM) and member of the Board of the European Menopause & Andropause Society (EMAS) 

Science Media Centre Spain

This is the kind of study that has a double interpretation depending on the interest shown by who publishes it and where it is published. They are not designed to establish a cause-effect relationship between early menarche (early puberty in colloquial, but not exact, terms) and type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease. What is dangerous in their reading is that they implicate natural hormones in these risks, when this is not true: on the contrary, female hormones regulate mechanisms that protect against coronary and metabolic diseases. 

This work shows that women who had an early menarche had a higher risk of cardiometabolic diseases before the age of 65, but overweight/obesity is behind the earlier menarche and has been shown to increase the risk of all these diseases. This is the message that needs to be conveyed to raise public awareness: the increasingly prevalent childhood obesity is the one that needs to be tackled to avoid complications such as diabetes, stroke and early puberty.

The author has declared they have no conflicts of interest
Age at menarche, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease complications in US women aged under 65 years: NHANES 1999–2018
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BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health
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María P Santos et al.

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