Postmenopausal Night Sweats Tied to Diabetes Risk

Women who have postmenopausal vasomotor symptoms (VMS), especially night sweats, have a higher risk for type 2 diabetes, according to a study published December 6 in Menopause. Further, the excess risk increased with the severity and duration of women’s symptoms, the researchers found.

“The most plausible and consistent explanation may be through associations with sleep disturbance,” write Kristen E. Gray, PhD, from the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System and the University of Washington School of Public Health in Seattle, and colleagues.  “VMS overall are associated with objective and subjective sleep disturbance, and individuals with disruptions in both the quantity and quality of sleep have a higher risk of diabetes.”

Sleep, then, may mediate associations between VMS and diabetes, they add.

“In particular, night sweats are more strongly associated with sleep disturbance than hot flashes, as they occur during the night, which may explain their more pronounced relationship with diabetes,” the authors write. “Our results also suggest that night sweats or their effects may be largely responsible for the association between VMS overall and diabetes.”

The researchers prospectively tracked and analyzed data for 150,007 postmenopausal women participating in the Women’s Health Initiative study to explore possible associations between incident diabetes and VMS from 1993 to 2014. In addition to looking at the severity of hot flashes and night sweats, the researchers looked at the timing of symptoms and how long they lasted.

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