Here’s yet another consequence of America’s childhood obesity epidemic: New research shows that girls with type 2 diabetes can set themselves up for developing a condition known as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
What is PCOS?
PCOS occurs when a woman’s ovaries or adrenal glands produce more male hormones than normal, and its many symptoms include:
- Painful cysts on the ovaries
- Irregular periods
- Excessive hair growth
- Weight gain
What is the link between diabetes and PCOS?
Exactly how type 2 diabetes and PCOS are linked isn’t fully understood yet.
“There’s more work to be done to explore the genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors that can explain this association,” says study author Dr. M. Constantine Samaan. He’s an associate professor of pediatrics at McMaster University and McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Insulin resistance likely plays a central role in both conditions, Samaan shares. When the body doesn’t respond well to insulin, blood sugar can build up in your bloodstream, eventually leading to type 2 diabetes. Many women with polycystic ovary syndrome are also insulin-resistant.
Samaan and his colleagues conducted a review to get a better handle on the risk of PCOS in girls with type 2 diabetes. Just shy of 20% of 470 girls with type 2 diabetes from six studies conducted across several countries had polycystic ovary syndrome. That rate is at least twice as high as it is in the general adolescent population, he notes.
“Previously, we knew that some girls with type 2 diabetes can develop PCOS, and our paper defines the specific global prevalence of PCOS in type 2 diabetes in girls,” Samaan adds.
Awareness of PCOS risk is the key, he shares. “Girls with type 2 diabetes need to be counseled about the risk of PCOS, and patients need