Factors like sex hormones, menstrual cycles, and breastfeeding are tied to a lowered risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. However, new research suggests that women taking birth control pills are at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes (T2D). This is even after controlling factors like for weight, considering the family history of type 2 diabetes controlling factors like blood pressure and smoking. The study also showed that women who go through puberty and menopause later have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The research, published in the journal Diabetologia, studied 83,799 French women from the E3N prospective cohort study They were followed between 1992 and 2014. Using modern technology, scientists were able to study type 2 diabetes risk factors such as smoking, age, physical activity, family history, blood pressure, education level, and socioeconomic status. This helped to find out how different hormonal factors impact a woman’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Which factors lead to a decreased risk of Type 2 diabetes?
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The factors linked to a decreased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes were
Menstruation at a later age: Studies showed that women beginning puberty at age 14 versus age 12 had a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
More number of menstrual cycles: Women found to have more than 470 menstrual cycles had a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 25 percent.
Reaching late menopause: Women reaching menopause by the age of 52 and older had a 30 percent lower risk of Type 2 diabetes compared to women experiencing menopause at age 47 or earlier.
Longer duration of exposure to sex hormones: Duration of exposure referred to the number of years from when a woman started her first period to when she went through menopause. Women who menstruated for over 38 years compared to women who menstruated under 31 years had a 34 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Breastfeeding Women: Women who breast fed had a 10 percent reduced risk of developing Type 2 diabetes than compared with women who never breastfed.
Additionally, women taking estrogen plus progestin also reduced their risk for developing T2D by 14 to 19 percent.
Estrogen and reduced diabetic risks in women?
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Pancreatic islet cells are important in regulating insulin secretion and glucose metabolism. They contain estrogen receptors. As a hypothesis, it is said that when estradiol (a form of estrogen) interacts with those receptors, it helps to maintain the survival and stability of islet cells. It also helps in stimulating insulin synthesis. This in turn aids glucose metabolism. Estrogen also is likely to increase insulin sensitivity and the ability to efficiently metabolize glucose. This also makes progression to diabetes less likely. Women having less exposure to their own sex hormones have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes This is especially the case if estrogen is lost early as in the case of early or premature menopause. Research has established a clear link t between early loss of hormones, accelerated aging and development of chronic diseases. This includes the risk of including increased risk for heart disease, osteoporosis, dementia and even early death.
As per a study women who experienced menopause at an earlier age were more susceptible to Type 2 diabetes.
Birth control pills and increased risk of Type 2 diabetes
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The study also showed that the use of birth control pills was associated with a 33 percent increase in the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes compared to women who never used them. Oral contraceptives were especially considered to be risky for women with a family history of diabetes, there who were obese or those that suffered from polycystic ovary syndrome. The reason why birth control pills could increase risk is not clear. This can potentially be related to the progestogen component of the oral contraceptive pills. Thus, implying that the risk may be the type of progestogen found in oral contraceptive pills.
There is no clear explanation why contraceptive pill use is associated with higher risk of type 2 diabetes. More research is required on the influence of each type and the kind of exposure of contraceptive agents.