Division of Endocrinology & Diabetes

A Menopause-Diabetes Link?

Jill P. Crandall, M.D.
Professor of Clinical Medicine
Department of Medicine (Endocrinology)
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Attending Physician, Endocrinology
Montefiore Medical Center

During menopause, the ovaries stop producing the female hormone estrogen but continue to pump out male hormones called androgens. As a result, hormone balance shifts and estrogen’s heart-protective effects decline. But does menopause place women at higher risk of diabetes as well? It seemed reasonable, since researchers knew that polycystic ovary syndrome—which also involves higher androgen levels—is associated with glucose intolerance, a prelude to diabetes. 

Dr. Crandall collaborated with other investigators in the Diabetes Prevention Program, a large, multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled trial investigating lifestyle intervention and use of the drug metformin in glucose-intolerant adults. The investigators followed more than 1,000 women who were in premenopause or natural postmenopause, or who had undergone bilateral oophorectomy (removal of both ovaries). The researchers found no link between natural menopause or bilateral oophorectomy and diabetes risk. The report appeared in a 2011 issue of Menopause

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