Obese Women Face Greater Risk for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

FRIDAY, Oct. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Overweight and obese women are five times more likely than lean women to have polycystic ovary syndrome, a new Spanish study finds.

Polycystic ovary syndrome, which decreases fertility, occurs when the ovaries malfunction and levels of the hormone androgen in the body are unusually high. Symptoms include acne, excess hair growth, and irregular or no menstrual periods.

The condition is associated with sleep apnea, poor quality of life, and an increased risk for diabetes and heart disease. More than half of women with polycystic ovary syndrome are obese, but the actual prevalence of the condition in overweight or obese women was not known, according to the study authors.

This study of 113 overweight or obese women found that 28.3 percent had polycystic ovary syndrome, compared to established rates of 6.5 percent among all women and 5.5 percent among lean women.

Women in the study with polycystic ovary syndrome tended to be younger and were more likely to also have insulin resistance, the study found.

"We conclude that physicians treating overweight and obese patients should be aware of the high prevalence of polycystic ovary syndrome among these women and that screening for polycystic ovary syndrome, at least by obtaining a detailed menstrual history and a careful clinical evaluation of hyperandrogenic symptoms, should be conducted routinely to diagnose polycystic ovary syndrome and ameliorate the health burden distinctly associated with this prevalent disorder," the study authors wrote.

The findings were published in the Oct. 23 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Oct. 23, 2006

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