Over an average 13 years of follow-up, 33% of participants experienced VMS, and 18,316 women developed diabetes.
Among the entire population, diabetes incidence was 9.3 per 1000 people per year of follow-up. When analyzed by subgroup, the incidence varied from 8.4 per 1000 person-years among women with no VMS at baseline to 11.3 per 1000 in women who had symptoms at baseline.
Women who reported any postmenopausal VMS had an 18% increased risk for diabetes (hazard ratio, 1.18; 95% confidence interval, 1.14 – 1.22) compared with those who reported no symptoms. Women with late postmenopausal VMS had a 12% increased risk, but the researchers found no statistically significant increased risk among women who exclusively had symptoms early, when premenopausal or perimenopausal. However, women who had both early and late symptoms had the largest increase in risk, at 16%.
Severity of VMS also moderated the risk associated with diabetes: Risk among women with severe symptoms was 48% higher than among women with no symptoms. Meanwhile, women with mild VMS had only a 13% risk for diabetes, and moderate symptoms were associated with a 29% increased diabetes risk.
Similarly, duration of symptoms and types of symptoms affected risk levels. Diabetes risk increased 4% for every 5 years that women experienced symptoms, separate from any risks associated with obesity. Night sweats were linked to a 20% increased risk for diabetes, whereas hot flashes alone were linked to an 8% increased risk. Having both night sweats and hot flashes was associated with a 22% increased risk for diabetes.