Women with PCOS may struggle with glucose control

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) — a condition characterized by excess male hormones — may have a harder time controlling glucose levels, a new study reports.

Research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism compared the health of 28 normal women to 28 women with PCOS.

Surprisingly, they found that the women with PCOS had a double-trouble situation happening with their glucose levels: their bodies had a harder time controlling blood sugar through both insulin and non-insulin approaches. Human bodies use both approaches to regulate glucose levels and turn blood sugar into energy.

Both mechanisms affected

Dr. Ricardo Azziz, reproductive endocrinologist and PCOS expert at Georgia Regents University, says the findings suggest women with PCOS are at a double disadvantage for blood sugar problems.

"Women with PCOS who have the highest levels of insulin resistance, the greatest difficulty controlling their sugar and the highest risk for diabetes, appear to have a double defect in how glucose is controlled, which affects both the mechanisms that use insulin and those that do not," Azziz said.

The role of fat

The study also found that different types of fat played a role in insulin sensitivity with this group of women. Visceral fat, the type found around internal organs, predicted how well insulin could control glucose. Subcutaneous fat, which is fat under the skin, was associated more with the regulation of glucose via non-insulin means.

"If the fat is not as sensitive to insulin, that obviously means blood sugar levels, and probably fat and cholesterol levels as well, increase and the pancreas responds by producing more insulin," Azziz said. "Fat abnormalities can have a tremendous impact on how we feel and how we function."

Azziz notes that the next steps are to understand how PCOS directly affects glucose usage via particular molecular mechanisms.

Source: Science Daily

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