PCOS Linked To Increased Risk of Diabetes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Anju Joham
PhD student, SPHPM
Endocrinologist, Monash Health

MedicalResearch: What is the background for your study?

Dr. Joham: This research led by Professor Helena Teede and Dr Anju Joham, from the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University analysed a large-scale epidemiological study, called the Australian Longitudinal Study of Women’s Health (ALSWH).

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a condition affecting nearly 20% of Australian women. Women with PCOS may experience irregular menstrual cycles, reduced fertility, increased risk of diabetes, high cholesterol and psychological features such as depression and reduced quality of life.

MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Joham:   Approximately 6000 women aged between 25-30 years were monitored for nine years, including nearly 500 women with diagnosed PCOS. Our research found that there is a clear link between PCOS and type 2 diabetes. The incidence and prevalence of type 2 diabetes was three to five times higher in women with PCOS. In analysing the key contributing factors to the increased diabetes risk, we found that having PCOS was in itself a key contributing factor.

MedicalResearch: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Joham:  Obesity is an important contributing factor to increased risk of diabetes. Approximately 60% of women with PCOS are overweight or obese. We expected that body mass index (a height weight ratioused to indicate if a person is underweight, overweight, obese or an ideal weight for their height) would be related to increased risk of diabetes in women with PCOS. However, in women with PCOS, obesity was not a key trigger of type 2 diabetes. We did find that obesity was a key factor contributing to type 2 diabetes risk in women without PCOS.

MedicalResearch: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Joham: This research highlights the need for greater awareness and screening, especially in high risk groups including young women with PCOS. Current diabetes screening guidelines recommend screening over 40 years of age. This may need to be reconsidered in women with PCOS. PCOS is not a well-recognised diabetes risk factor and many young women with the condition do not get regular diabetes screening even pre-pregnancy, despite recommendations from the Australian PCOS evidence based guidelines. We would recommend that women with PCOS should have regular screening for type 2 diabetes, irrespective of their weight. This is especially important in women contemplating future pregnancy.

MedicalResearch: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Joham:  We need more research in PCOS, with further exploration of the relationship between PCOS status, weight and diabetes. We need to confirm the ideal test for screening for diabetes and then look at the implementation of prevention strategies and effective treatments.

Citation: Abstract Presented at the 2014 ICE/ENDO Conference

PP04-1 Longitudinal Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Reproductive-Aged Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Poster Board SAT-0018
Anju Elizabeth Joham, MBBS, FRACP1, Sanjeeva Ranasinha, MEpid, MSc(ApplStat)2, Sophia Zoungas, MBBS, FRACP, PhD2 and Helena Jane Teede, MBBS, PhD, FRACP3
1Monash University, Clayton VIC, Australia, 2Monash University, Clayton VIC, Australia, 3Monash University, Clayton VIC, Australia

Last Updated on June 26, 2014 by Marie Benz MD FAAD