Age at menarche and risk of type 2 diabetes: Results from 2 large prospective cohort studies

Chunyan He, Cuilin Zhang, David J. Hunter, Susan E. Hankinson, Germaine M. Buck Louis, Mary L. Hediger, Frank B. Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

185 Scopus citations


The authors investigated the association between age at menarche and risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) among 101,415 women from the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) aged 34-59 years (1980-2006) and 100,547 women from Nurses' Health Study II (NHS II) aged 26-46 years (1991-2005). During 2,430,274 and 1,373,875 person-years of follow-up, respectively, 7,963 and 2,739 incident cases of T2DM were documented. Young age at menarche was associated with increased risk of T2DM after adjustment for potential confounders, including body figure at age 10 years and body mass index (BMI; weight (kg)/height (m)2) at age 18 years. Relative risks of T2DM across age-at-menarche categories (≤11, 12, 13, 14, and ≥15 years) were 1.18 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.10, 1.27), 1.09 (95% CI: 1.02, 1.17), 1.00 (referent), 0.92 (95% CI: 0.83, 1.01), and 0.95 (95% CI: 0.84, 1.06), respectively, in the NHS (P for trend < 0.0001) and 1.40 (95% CI: 1.24, 1.57), 1.13 (95% CI: 1.00, 1.27), 1.00 (referent), 0.98 (95% CI: 0.82, 1.18), and 0.96 (95% CI: 0.78, 1.19), respectively, in NHS II (P for trend < 0.0001). Associations were substantially attenuated after additional control for updated time-varying BMI. These data suggest that early menarche is associated with increased risk of T2DM in adulthood. The association may be largely mediated through excessive adult adiposity. The association was stronger among younger women, supporting a role for sex hormones in younger onset of T2DM, in addition to BMI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)334-344
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Adiposity
  • Body mass index
  • Diabetes mellitus, type 2
  • Menarche
  • Risk factors
  • Weight gain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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