Researchers from Monash University, in Australia, have shown that young women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) have up to 5 times higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a common hormonal disorder in which women produce higher than normal levels of androgen hormones such as testosterone. The condition results in non-dangerous cysts gathering on the outside of the ovaries. PCOS can lead to lower fertility levels and can lead to other problems such as insulin resistance, acne and male pattern facial hair. Around 1 in 5 women develop PCOS.
Because PCOS is linked with insulin resistance, a hallmark of type 2 diabetes, researchers at Monash University looked to investigate how PCOS affected diabetes risk in young women. Over 6,000 women between the ages of 25 and 28 were recruited for the study and then monitored over a 9 year period. 500 of the women had been diagnosed with PCOS.
When the researchers reviewed the women after the 9 year period, when the women were between 34 and 37 years of age, the women with PCOS were 3 to 5 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than the other women. The researchers also noted that obesity was not a major factor in the development of type 2 diabetes in younger women.
The researchers note that this has important clinical implications for the screening of diabetes in women with PCOS, particularly in pregnancy.

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