Women who have irregular or very long menstrual cycles have a higher risk of developing diabetes. Women with such menstrual abnormalities needn't panic because the risk can be reduced markedly by lifestyle measures, most notably regular exercise and weight control.
Menstrual cycles 40 days or longer or irregular cycles appear to be markers for some sort of underlying metabolic abnormality. "Over an eight-year follow-up, the risk was twice as high, even after we adjusted for body mass and other factors," says Dr. Caren G. Solomon, an associate physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
The study is the first to specifically link menstrual cycles and Type II diabetes. The study uses data from the Nurses Health Study II, which followed more than 100,000 women. The women supplied information about their menstrual cycles and other personal data -- weight, height, family history of diabetes, the level of physical activity. The results of the study are not surprising but are valuable.