San Francisco, Jan 29 (IANS) Researchers have suggested that female reproductive characteristics that may be overlooked as risk factors could eventually lead to “metabolic dysfunction” in later life, according to a new study.
Metabolic health is characterised by optimal blood glucose, lipids, blood pressure, and body fat.
According to the study published in the journal Cell Metabolism, alterations in these characteristics may lead to the development of Type-2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
“Our review provides insights into potential underlying causes and risk factors for poorer metabolic function,” said lead author Amy R. Nichols PhD, MS, RD, a research fellow at the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute and the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.
“Current evidence linking certain female reproductive traits to chronic metabolic health and disease suggests that screening for reproductive risk factors across life course may be an initial step to aid prevention or treatment of chronic metabolic diseases,” she added.
These reproductive risk factors include early age of first menstruation, menstrual irregularity, the development of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), high weight change in pregnancy, abnormal blood sugar and lipid levels during pregnancy, and the severity and timing of menopausal symptoms, the study noted.
Moreover, the researchers pointed out that these traits may share underlying mechanisms leading to poorer metabolic health, including genetic influences, hormonal fluctuations, or body fat.
Though acknowledging these reproductive milestones as risk factors is one step toward better understanding the development of metabolic dysfunction, the researchers said that future research is needed to understand these complex relationships.
“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,” said senior author Emily Oken MD, MPH, at the Harvard Medical School Professor.
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