SUMMARY ANSWER: Although there was no overall association between diabetes and age at menopause, our study suggests that early-onset diabetes may accelerate menopause.
WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Today, more women of childbearing age are being diagnosed with diabetes, but little is known about the impact of diabetes on reproductive health.
STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: We investigated the impact of diabetes on age at natural menopause (ANM) in 258 898 women from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), enrolled between 1992 and 2000.
PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: Determinant and outcome information was obtained through questionnaires. Time-dependent Cox regression analyses were used to estimate the associations of diabetes and age at diabetes diagnosis with ANM, stratified by center and adjusted for age, smoking, reproductive and diabetes risk factors and with age from birth to menopause or censoring as the underlying time scale.
MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: Overall, no association between diabetes and ANM was found (hazard ratio (HR) = 0.94; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.89-1.01). However, women with diabetes before the age of 20 years had an earlier menopause (10-20 years: HR = 1.43; 95% CI 1.02-2.01, <10 years: HR = 1.59; 95% CI 1.03-2.43) compared with non-diabetic women, whereas women with diabetes at age 50 years and older had a later menopause (HR = 0.81; 95% CI 0.70-0.95). None of the other age groups were associated with ANM.
LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: Strengths of the study include the large sample size and the broad set of potential confounders measured. However, results may have been underestimated due to survival bias. We cannot be sure about the sequence of the events in women with a late age at diabetes, as both events then occur in a short period. We could not distinguish between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: Based on the literature, an accelerating effect of early-onset diabetes on ANM might be plausible. A delaying effect of late-onset diabetes on ANM has not been reported before, and is not in agreement with recent studies suggesting the opposite association.
STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTERESTS: The coordination of EPIC is financially supported by the European Commission (DG-SANCO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. The national cohorts are supported by Danish Cancer Society (Denmark); Ligue Contre le Cancer, Institut Gustave Roussy, Mutuelle Générale de l'Education Nationale, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) (France); German Cancer Aid, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMMF) (Germany); Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity, Stavros Niarchos Foundation and Hellenic Health Foundation (Greece); Italian Association for Research on Cancer (AIRC) and National Research Council (Italy); Dutch Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sports (VWS), Netherlands Cancer Registry (NKR), LK Research Funds, Dutch Prevention Funds, Dutch ZON (Zorg Onderzoek Nederland), World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), Statistics Netherlands (The Netherlands); ERC-2009-AdG 232997 and Nordforsk, Nordic Centre of Excellence programme on Food, Nutrition and Health (Norway); Health Research Fund (FIS), Regional Governments of Andalucía, Asturias, Basque Country, Murcia (no. 6236) and Navarra, ISCIII RETIC (RD06/0020) (Spain); Swedish Cancer Society, Swedish Scientific Council and Regional Government of Skåne and Västerbotten (Sweden); Cancer Research UK, Medical Research Council, Stroke Association, British Heart Foundation, Department of Health, Food Standards Agency, and Wellcome Trust (UK). None of the authors reported a conflict of interest.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: International and Thai databases were searched from inception to February 2017. Clinical trials investigating effects of PM menopausal or postmenopausal women were included. Outcomes were self-reported menopausal symptoms, serum reproductive hormones, urino-genital tract function, and bone surrogates. Methodological quality was assessed by Cochrane risk-of-bias v2.0, and a 22-parameter quality score based on the CONSORT checklist for herbal medicines.
RESULTS: Eight studies (9 articles) used data from 309 menopausal patients. Five-studies demonstrated that PM was associated with climacteric scores reduced by ~50% compared to baseline. Other PM studies using limited numbers of placebo participants suggested improved vaginal and other urogenital tract symptoms. Bone alkaline phosphatase halved (suggesting lowered bone turnover). Variable serum reproductive hormone levels suggested menopausal status differed between studies. PM active ingredients and sources were not defined. Adverse event rates (mastodynia, vaginal spotting, dizziness) were similar in all groups (PM, conjugated equine estrogen, and placebos) but serum C-reactive protein doubled. These studies had design and reporting deficiencies, high risks of biases, and low quality scores.
CONCLUSIONS: The efficacy of PM on menopausal symptoms remains inconclusive because of methodological short-comings especially placebo effects inherent in self-assessment/recall questionnaires and no PM standardization. PM efficacy and safety need a fundamental re-appraisal by: (i) cohort (retro- and prospective) studies on current users to define its traditional use for rejuvenation; (ii) tightly coupling long-term efficacy to safety of well-defined PM and multiple end-points; (iii) using study design related to current understanding of menopause progression and estrogen pharmacology (iv) robust pharmacovigilance.
OBJECTIVE: Previously published findings showed that phytoestrogens could relieve menopausal complaints, thus, the present review was aimed at assessing the effects of phytoestrogens on thermoregulatory mechanism during menopausal transition.
RESULTS: The molecular mechanisms underlying hot flashes are complex. Oestrogen fluctuations cause hypothalamic thermoregulatory centre dysfunction, which leads to hot flashes during menopause. The phytoestrogens of interest, in relation to human health, include isoflavones, lignans, coumestans, and stilbenes, which are widely distributed in nature. The phytoestrogens are capable of reducing hot flashes via their oestrogen-like hormone actions. The potential effects of phytoestrogens on hot flashes and their molecular mechanisms of action on thermoregulatory centre are discussed in this review.
CONCLUSION: The effects of phytoestrogens on these mechanisms may help explain their beneficial effects in alleviating hot flashes and other menopausal discomforts.