NEW ORLEANS — Diabetes is a common medical problem in Louisiana, and the pandemic was especially hard on those patients.
Research has uncovered a way to help post-menopausal women with diabetes and another new research study will begin this fall at Tulane.
After menopause, when women no longer have their female hormones, midsection fat increases and muscle mass decreases. Metabolism changes are not all from age. Estrogen deficiency is also to blame.
Many studies show post-menopausal women on estrogen replacement have a 20 to 35 percent reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes. Diabetic women have lower glucose levels.
Tulane endocrinologist and Director of the Diabetes Discovery Research and Gender Medicine Laboratory, Dr. Franck Mauvais-Jarvis, has been researching metabolism and hormone replacement for years. He started with menopausal mice that were fed a fattening, junk food diet.
“And these animals, of course they became, these female animals, they became obese. And those that were treated by this exact estrogen treatment, you'll remember the expression I said was the fat was melting in the sun,” Dr. Franck Mauvais-Jarvis said referencing the weight loss of the animals in the study.
Later studies were with women in menopause.
“My metabolism was down. I had gained a lot of weight. I didn't feel like exercising and I was miserable,” said study participant Regina Valent in 2017.
Those now published results found that hormone replacement improved prediabetes.
“We had a slight improvement in blood glucose and insulin production. OK. So that's good for diabetes,” he explained.
But those studies were only for a few months on small groups of women. Now his colleague, endocrinologist Dr. Dragana Lovre, will move research forward with diabetic and prediabetic post-menopausal women.
“We want to see, when you're diabetic you already have a decreased insulin secretion, so if we improve insulin secretion, insulin production, in non-diabetic women, maybe the effect will be even better in diabetic women,” said Dr. Mauvais-Jarvis.
Improving diabetes helps many health problems, but now we know it is especially dangerous if you get COVID-19.
The hormone study is looking for post-menopausal women who have diabetes or pre-diabetes.
call 504-988-0200 for more. The study will start in fall 2021.
More on studies that found metabolic benefits to hormone replacement therapy for post-menopausal women.