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Early Maturation Can Increase Diabetes Risk for Girls, Study Reports

Update Date: Oct 25, 2013 03:29 PM EDT

In a new study, researchers examined the effects of early maturation for young girls. The study, which observed women from eight European countries, found an association between early menstruation and type 2 diabetes risk. The researchers reported that girls who get their period earlier might be at a greater risk of getting type 2 diabetes in adulthood.

"The body is undergoing many changes during puberty," said Cathy Elks, a research fellow at the MRC epidemiology unit at the University of Cambridge in England. "Our research, as well as previous related studies, suggests that the biological factors implicated in the timing of development may have a role in the development of type 2 diabetes, despite the fact that these processes occur many years before the manifestation of disturbed [blood sugar] control."

In this study, the researchers looked at the medical data of over 15,000 women. Based from the information provided, the researchers found that women who matured faster between the ages of eight and 11 were 70 percent more likely to get type 2 diabetes when compared to girls who started to menstruate at the median age of 13. When the researchers accounted for obesity, they reported that the findings were still significant. This finding adds on to several other studies that have found negative associations with early menstruation. Early maturation has been tied to heart disease, obesity and cancer.

"These findings suggest that early puberty has an effect on metabolic disease risk, which is partially mediated by increased BMI [a measurement of body fat based on height and weight], but also has some direct effect through other biological pathways which act independently of adiposity [body fat]," the study authors wrote according to Medical Xpress.

The study was published in the November issue of Diabetes Care

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