Young women suffering from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) are at five times higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a new study finds.
The study was conducted by researchers from Monash University. They followed 6000 women aged between 25-28 years for nine years. Among these women, 500 were diagnosed with PCOS. Researchers found that these 500 women were at a three to five times higher risk of type 2 diabetes. The interesting bit was that weight was not an influencing factor. This was quite a surprising find since obesity is one of the factors that triggers type 2 diabetes.
"Our research found that there is a clear link between PCOS and diabetes. However, PCOS is not a well-recognized diabetes risk factor and many young women with the condition don't get regular diabetes screening even pre pregnancy, despite recommendations from the Australian PCOS evidence based guidelines," Professor Helena Teede said in a press statement.
The findings also debunk current recommendations that women should get screened for diabetes after they reach 40 years of age, suggesting these screens may be required earlier for many women.
"Type 2 diabetes itself is preventable, as are diabetes complications, but only if people at risk of or who have diabetes are screened, aware and take preventative action," Professor Teede said. "With the dramatic rise in diabetes, this research highlights the need for greater awareness and screening, especially in high risk groups including young women with PCOS."
A 2007 study found that PCOS affects 1 in 15 women worldwide and is a major economic health burden that is likely to expand together with obesity. The cause of PCOS is unknown. But most experts think that several factors, including genetics, could play a role. Women with PCOS are more likely to have a mother or sister with PCOS. Researchers also think insulin may be linked to PCOS. Insulin is a hormone that controls the change of sugar, starches, and other food into energy for the body to use or store. Many women with PCOS have too much insulin in their bodies because they have problems using it.
According to a WebMd report, the symptoms of PCOS are:
- Infertility (not able to get pregnant) because of not ovulating.
- Infrequent, absent, and/or irregular menstrual periods
- Hirsutism - increased hair growth on the face, chest, stomach, back, thumbs, or toes
- Cysts on the ovaries
- Acne, oily skin, or dandruff
- Weight gain or obesity, usually with extra weight around the waist
- Male-pattern baldness or thinning hair
- Patches of skin on the neck, arms, breasts, or thighs that are thick and dark brown or black
- Skin tags - excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck area
- Pelvic pain
- Anxiety or depression
- Sleep apnea - when breathing stops for short periods of time while asleep
Findings were presented at the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society (ICE/ENDO) in Chicago.