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Body weight influences the chance of developing PCOS

By Priscilla Lynch - 02nd Sep 2022

polycystic ovary syndrome

A new study has confirmed a clear relationship between obesity and the chance of developing polycystic ovary syndrome (PCO), with obesity during childhood and teenage years particularly vital to the disease’s development. This ground-breaking public health research was presented during the 24th European Congress of Endocrinology. 

PCOS is a common condition. Many cases go undiagnosed, but according to a 2016 study this condition affects up to 10 per cent of women. PCOS can lead to diabetes, infertility, poorer quality-of-life, and pregnancy complications. 

The goal of the study was to see if obesity had an impact on the development of PCOS. Dr Laurence Dobbie, Royal Liverpool University Hospital in the UK, and Prof Daniel Cuthbertson, Professor of Medicine at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, investigated whether obesity and diabetes markers contribute to PCOS development with colleagues from the University of Liverpool. 

The study included a genetic analysis, termed mendelian randomisation, of over 110,000 people. The team also pooled data from 63 other studies, via meta-analysis, to assess how overweight and obesity affect the chance of developing PCOS. 

The study highlighted that BMI, body fat levels and markers indicative of diabetes are vital in PCOS development. They also showed that girls who are overweight and go on to have a normal adult body weight are still more likely to develop PCOS. The team also reported that obesity and overweight during adolescence are particularly important in the development of the condition. 

“This study shows that obesity during childhood and teenage years are key factors in the development of PCOS. This opens a way to support women’s health by investing in nutritional and weight management programmes for younger people. This also has the potential to prevent the condition’s consequences, which include poorer quality-of-life, infertility, diabetes, and pregnancy complications,” said Dr Dobbie.

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