15 Statistics on PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and Diabetes You Need to Know
An estimated 5 million women in the United States have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition characterized by irregular menstrual cycles, elevated androgens (male hormones), ovarian cysts, obesity, insulin resistance, and an increased risk of developing diabetes.
The cause of PCOS is unknown. What researchers do know is that a number of genetic and environmental factors contribute to the development of this endocrine disorder. Here are 15 statistics on PCOS and diabetes you need to know:
- More than 90 percent of women with PCOS will develop impaired glucose tolerance or type 2 diabetes during their lifetime if they don't receive treatment for both conditions. By contrast, less than 10 percent women in general will develop impaired glucose tolerance or type 2 diabetes during their lifetime.
- The prevalence of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of cardiovascular disease risk factors that includes high blood pressure, high triglyceride levels, low HDL ("good") cholesterol levels and central obesity, is up to 58 percent among women with PCOS – more than three times the rate among women in the general population.
- In women with PCOS, 45 percent have impaired glucose tolerance as well as 40-45 percent have elevated serum insulin levels . In contrast, only 3 percent of those without PCOS will test positive for both an impaired glucose tolerance test and elevated insulin levels.
- Women with PCOS who also have type 1 diabetes are at even greater risk for developing cardiovascular disease because of their condition. Type 1 diabetes is a form of insulin-dependent diabetes that usually develops during childhood or adolescence, and it represents 5 percent to 10 percent of all cases of diabetes.
- The number of women with PCOS who also have type 2 diabetes can be as much as 40 percent .
- A recent study found that women with PCOS have low levels of NO (nitric oxide), a chemical in the body involved in converting glucose into energy. The researchers suggest that this defect may contribute to both insulin resistance and impaired glucose tolerance in these women. In addition, scientists have noted that nitric oxide has anti-inflammatory properties, which may help explain why some studies have shown an association between lower levels of NO and cardiovascular disease.
- A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that women with PCOS have a 41 percent higher risk for cardiovascular disease than those without this condition. This is due to insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes and high triglyceride levels. Women who had elevated LH/FSH (luteinizing hormone/follicle-stimulating hormone) ratios were more likely to be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease than those with normal LH/FSH ratios.
- Women affected by PCOS are almost five times more likely to develop metabolic syndrome compared to healthy women .
- Some research suggests that about 50 percent of obese children will develop type 2 diabetes if their weight isn't reduced. A new study shows that obese teenage girls with PCOS are almost nine times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those without the disorder.
- The risk of gestational diabetes among women with PCOS is up to 13 percent higher . Although the condition usually occurs during pregnancy, it can also happen shortly after delivering a baby. However, there's no need for concern about transferring diabetes from mother to child because type 1 diabetes cannot be inherited or passed on through genes.
- Women with PCOS have an increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome compared to healthy women . Metabolic syndrome increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes several-fold.
- Even if you don't have PCOS, being overweight can reduce fertility in general . The condition of PCOS is just one example. Women who have normal menstrual periods but are overweight often have hormonal imbalances that lead to a reduced ability to conceive compared with women who maintain a healthy weight.
13. An effective form of birth control for women with PCOS is the IUD . This method is ideal for those who also suffer from heavy or irregular menstrual bleeding – another symptom associated with this condition, as well as endometrial hyperplasia (thickening of the uterine lining). In addition, as many as 30 percent of IUD users will experience complete resolution of their PCOS symptoms without any other treatment!
14. One study showed that women with PCOS were more likely to develop impaired glucose tolerance and type 2 diabetes if they had more pronounced symptoms of the disorder, such as obesity and irregular menstrual periods.
15. A recent review found that women with PCOS have a threefold to fourfold increased risk of developing endometrial cancer compared with those who don't have this condition . This is especially true for women under age 40.
These statistics summarize some key aspects of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and its relationship with diabetes: 4 percent of American women aged 20-39 years old are affected by polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), making it the leading cause of infertility in this country; 50 percent of obese children will develop type 2 diabetes if their weight isn reduced; the risk of gestational diabetes among women with PCOS is up to 13 percent higher; the risk of metabolic syndrome in women with PCOS is about five times higher than for healthy women; some research suggests that about 50 percent of obese children will develop type 2 diabetes if their weight isn't reduced; being overweight can reduce fertility in general.
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