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06-06-2010 | Diabetes | Article

Women with PCOS have four-fold increased prevalence of Type 2 diabetes


Free abstract

MedWire News: Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) have a four-fold increased prevalence of Type 2 diabetes, independent of body mass index (BMI), show results from a systematic review and meta-analysis.

In addition, the researchers found that women with PCOS have a significantly increased prevalence of impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and the metabolic syndrome independent of BMI.

Previous research has suggested that women with PCOS have increased risks for Type 2 diabetes, IGT, and the metabolic syndrome, but definitions of these conditions and PCOS vary across the literature and factors such as age, BMI, and ethnicity can influence PCOS phenotype and diagnosis.

Lisa Moran (Monash University, Victoria, Australia) and team therefore carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis to obtain a realistic estimate of the prevalence of these conditions in women with PCOS compared with those without the disorder adjusting for the confounding factor of adiposity.

In total, 35 studies were included in the systematic review and 30 in the meta-analysis. All included studies were observational and employed a cross-sectional or cohort study design.

Most studies assessed overweight or obese (BMI above 25 kg/m2) post- and premenopausal women, with the exception of three that included adolescents only, two that included premenopausal women only, and five that included a lean subgroup of women with a BMI below 25 kg/m2. BMI-matched cases and controls were reported in 10 studies.

In non BMI-matched studies, the researchers found that women with PCOS had a 4.48-, 2.48-, and 2.88-fold increased prevalence of Type 2 diabetes, IGT, and the metabolic syndrome, respectively, compared with controls.

In BMI-matched studies, the corresponding prevalence’s were increased a respective 4.00-, 2.54-, and 2.20-fold.

The authors caution that “it is important to note that there are limited studies of high methodological quality assessing the magnitude of this metabolic disturbance and associated CVD risk in BMI- or abdominal obesity-matched groups and in lean women with and without PCOS.”

However, they say that their results support “a greater prevalence of IGT, Type 2 diabetes, and the metabolic syndrome in women with PCOS compared with women without PCOS.”

They conclude in the journal Human Reproduction Update: “Future research in PCOS should identify optimal risk prediction tools for Type 2 diabetes and CVD and optimal definition and utility of the metabolic syndrome for disease prediction.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Helen Albert