New research suggests that female reproductive characteristics could be significant risk factors for metabolic dysfunction later in life, including diabetes and high cholesterol. The study, titled “Reproductive risk factors across the female lifecourse and later metabolic health,” was conducted by researchers at the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute and published in Cell Metabolism.
Metabolic health refers to maintaining optimal blood glucose, lipid levels, blood pressure, and body fat. Any alterations in these factors can lead to the development of conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Lead author Amy R. Nichols explains, “Our review provides insights into potential underlying causes and risk factors for poorer metabolic function.” The researchers emphasize that certain female reproductive traits are often overlooked in relation to chronic metabolic health and disease. By recognizing and screening for these factors throughout a woman’s life, there may be an opportunity to prevent or effectively treat chronic metabolic diseases.
The identified reproductive risk factors include early onset of menstruation, menstrual irregularity, the presence of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), significant weight changes during pregnancy, abnormal blood sugar and lipid levels during pregnancy, and the severity and timing of menopausal symptoms. The study authors suggest that these traits may share common underlying mechanisms that contribute to poorer metabolic health, such as genetic influences, hormonal fluctuations, or excess body fat. However, further research is necessary to fully understand these complex relationships.
Senior author Emily Oken emphasizes the challenges of disentangling the connections between risk factors and metabolic dysfunction. She states, “Clinical evidence gathered across a woman’s reproductive lifespan may be crucial for patient education, implementing prevention strategies, and delaying the onset of diseases.”
This research highlights the importance of considering female reproductive milestones and traits as potential risk factors for future metabolic health issues. By recognizing and addressing these factors, healthcare professionals can work towards early intervention and prevention strategies to mitigate the risk of developing chronic metabolic diseases such as diabetes and high cholesterol. Future research will help further advance our understanding of the underlying mechanisms and develop more targeted interventions for better metabolic health in women.
- Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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