Certain female reproductive traits are associated with chronic metabolic health conditions later in life, latest evidence shows.

Researchers from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute have found that the female reproductive characteristics can trigger the development of type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.

Metabolic health is defined as having blood sugar, waist circumference, blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides all within a healthy range.

Changes in metabolic health can trigger the development of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, the study has reported.

Senior author Amy R Nichols said: “Our review provides insights into potential underlying causes and risk factors for poorer metabolic function.

“Current evidence linking certain female reproductive traits to chronic metabolic health and disease suggests that screening for reproductive risk factors across the life course may be an initial step to aid prevention or treatment of chronic metabolic diseases.”

Reproductive risk factors include early age of first menstruation, abnormal blood sugar and lipid levels during pregnancy, menstrual irregularity, the development of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the severity and timing of menopausal symptoms and high weight change in pregnancy.

According to the researchers, these characteristics could share underlying mechanisms leading to poorer metabolic health, such as hormonal fluctuations, body fat and genetic influences.

Joint author Dr Emily Oken said: “Disentangling the relationship between risk factors and metabolic dysfunction is challenging.

“Clinical evidence gathered in the health care setting across the female reproductive lifespan may be critical for patient education, implementing prevention strategies, and staving off disease onset.”

Read the study here.

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