PCOS: a significant contributor to type 2 diabetes

September 1, 2007

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Women diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) as young adults are at significantly increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes mellitus, according to the findings of a study involving over 300 women with and without PCOS at 35 to 64 years of age.

In fact, when the increased risk of type 2 diabetes observed among women with PCOS was applied to an estimated 6% to 10% prevalence of PCOS in the general female population, the authors of the study calculated that approximately 15% to 35.6% of all incident cases of type 2 diabetes in white women can be attributed to PCOS.

The findings would seem to imply that all adolescent and young adult women with irregular periods and evidence of hyperandrogenism should undergo an oral glucose tolerance test every 2 to 3 years. Such women should also make lifestyle modifications and begin treatment, if warranted, at a fairly early age to help prevent type 2 diabetes from developing later in life.