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J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2007 Mar;16(2):191-7.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS): a significant contributor to the overall burden of type 2 diabetes in women.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261, USA.



Given the high prevalence of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) in the population, the increased risk for the development of type 2 diabetes in these women, and the role of type 2 diabetes in mediating adverse long-term sequelae, the objective of this analysis was to quantify the contribution of this early-life exposure (e.g., PCOS) to the burden of type 2 diabetes in the total population of middle-aged women.


The cumulative incidence and relative risk (RR) of type 2 diabetes were examined in a group of women with PCOS (n = 149) and unaffected women (n = 166), aged 35-64, who were part of an ongoing investigation of cardiovascular risk factors in women with PCOS. The population attributable risk percent (PAR%) was calculated using Levin's formula to estimate the percentage of type 2 diabetes in the total population among middle-aged women that can be attributed to the presence of PCOS at young adulthood.


When the RR of type 2 diabetes among women with PCOS observed in our current study and others (4.0-6.0) was applied to an estimated 6%-10% prevalence of PCOS in the female population, 15.0%-35.6% of all incident cases of type 2 diabetes in white women were estimated to be attributable to PCOS. Moreover, other investigators have noted this proportion of undiagnosed PCOS in populations of women with type 2 diabetes.


These results support the recommendation that all women with PCOS should be periodically rescreened for diabetes and underscores the importance of the early identification of young women with PCOS and the need for early lifestyle intervention.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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