Young women with PCOS have much higher type 2 diabetes risk

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), a condition that affects hormonal balance in women, is a often undiagnosed and untreated.

Not only can PCOS cause weight gain, hair loss and lethargy, but new research suggests it can also make young women much more likely to develop diabetes.

A study from researchers at the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University found the incidence of type 2 diabetes to be three to five times higher in women with PCOS. Interestingly, obesity wasn't an important cause in the development of type 2 diabetes in women with PCOS - suggesting that other factors should be considered when screening these women during routine health exams.

"With the dramatic rise in diabetes, this research highlights the need for greater awareness and screening, especially in high risk groups including young women with PCOS," said study author Professor Helena Teede.

Peak reproductive years put women at significant risk

Professor Teede explained that young women with PCOS are even more vulnerable to the dangers of undiagnosed diabetes because they are in their peak reproductive years.

Women in the study were between the ages of 25 and 28 and were followed for over 9 years until they were between the ages of 34 and 37.

"Our research found that there is a clear link between PCOS and diabetes," Teede said. "However, PCOS is not a well-recognized diabetes risk factor and many young women with the condition don't get regular diabetes screening even pre-pregnancy, despite recommendations from the Australian PCOS evidence based guidelines."

According to the study, PCOS affects about one in five women. It can usually be treated with lifestyle and diet strategies or medication.

Source: Monash University

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