WASHINGTON – Women with obesity and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This comes from a study presented at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting, ENDO 2021. Normal weight women with PCOS are not at increased risk, the researchers found.
The study found that women with PCOS had a more than three-fold increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes during their lifetime. This risk was only evident in women who met the criteria for overweight or obesity, but not in slim women.
“We strongly recommend weight management in women with obesity and PCOS to reduce this high risk of developing type 2 diabetes,” said lead researcher Dr. Sarantis Livadas from Athens Medical Center in Athens, Greece.
PCOS is a common condition characterized by irregular menstrual periods, disorders of normal metabolism, and excessive hair growth. PCOS affects up to 10% of all women of childbearing age. The disorder can lead to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, which are often life-long illnesses. Between 50% and 80% of women with PCOS are obese, and obesity is known to be a risk factor for diabetes.
The link between PCOS and diabetes is based on a small number of studies that mainly looked at women with the condition and obesity.
In the new study, researchers analyzed 23 previous studies to assess the effects of obesity on subsequent type 2 diabetes development in women with PCOS. The studies included a total of 60,336 women with PCOS and 259,444 without the disease. A total of 8,847 women in the studies had type 2 diabetes.
“We conclude that only women with PCOS and obesity are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, contrary to the current belief that all women with PCOS are at significant risk of developing type 2 diabetes have, “said Livadas. “This finding underscores the impact of early detection of this PCOS population and prompt lifestyle changes to stave off the development of type 2 diabetes.