Lifestyle Changes Beneficial for Metabolic Syndrome in Midlife Women

In a recent study, modified lifestyle behaviors were associated with recovery from metabolic syndrome (MetS) and decreased risk of components associated with MetS for women entering menopause. 

The prospective, multi-ethnic study included 3,003 (1,412 non-Hispanic white, 851 black, 272 Japanese, 237 Hispanic, 231 Chinese) women transitioning into menopause. Researchers defined MetS as having at least three of the five following factors: high fasting triglyceride (hTG), low high density lipoprotein cholesterol (lHDL), high fasting plasma glucose (hGluc), large waist circumference (Ob), and hypertension

The most common component was obesity. At baseline, 31% of participants had no components. Women were more likely to recover from MetS if they were physically active (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.68, 95% CI: 1.06-2.68) and lowered their caloric intake (HR = 0.96; 95% CI: 0.93-0.99, per 100 cal/day). Women who were physically active had 26-62% lower hazards of incident MetS when compared with inactive women. 

“Previous studies have largely focused on cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes in postmenopausal women. This study is unique because it focuses on an earlier stage in women’s lives, the menopausal transition in midlife, to potentially prevent such diseases from occurring,” said lead study author Jennifer S. Lee, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of medicine, Stanford Medical Center and the Veteran Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System in Stanford, Calif. 

One in five Americans has MetS. Many people are asymptomatic and may be unaware they are at risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, especially if they are not obese. 

“Discovering which modifiable factors like physical activity and a lower calorie diet are more common in midlife women who recover from metabolic syndrome, in this study, could better inform what preventive strategies to consider in women earlier in their lives,” Dr. Lee said. 

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Sources: Endocrine Society, Hormone Health NetworkThe Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism