Polycystic ovary syndrome can affect women with low body mass index

  • Anupam Srivastava, Hindustan Times, Lucknow
  • |
  • Updated: May 09, 2013 11:01 IST

A study conducted among young women in the city has found lesser prevalence of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) at 3.7% than reported in previous research.

However, the disturbing part of the study is that girls are falling prey to the syndrome despite having low body-mass index (BMI), contradicting the earlier belief that it primarily affects the obese.

Harmandeep Gill, Dr Preeti Dabadghao and Dr Pallavi Tewari of the Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute Of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS) conducted the study among 1,520 girl students from three city colleges.

The subjects were of the age group 18 to 25 years. Out of 1,520 subjects, 13.7% were cases of possible PCOS and 3.7% were confirmed PCOS, which is less than that reported in earlier studies.

An earlier study had shown the prevalence of 8.7%. The experts found that even at this young age, the girls were at a high risk of metabolic syndrome because of the increased prevalence of abnormal waist-hip ratio and prehypertension.

Dr Preeti Dabadghao said, "Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine disorder in women of reproductive age. Due to the logistics of diagnosis and lack of consensus on diagnostic criteria, there are very few prevalence studies in the community. This study aimed to assess the prevalence of PCOS in women between 18 and 25 years of age in Lucknow."

She futher said, "A majority of our cases were lean-only 24% had a BMI of more than 23 (overweight), and none was morbidly obese. In contrast, 30-38% subjects were obese in other studies. Obesity can itself cause menstrual irregularity and increased prevalence of PCOS. However, in spite of lower prevalence of obesity, the waist-hip ratio was abnormal in 44% of confirmed cases, highlighting that Indians have more central obesity (excess abdominal fat), even at low BMI. A significant number of these girls had pre-hypertension; both these factors increasing their long-term cardiovascular disease risk."

Cardiovascular diseases are often found occurring along with PCOS.

In the sample, 175 girls or 11.5% had menstrual irregularity, 27 students had hirsutism (1.83%), and 25 subjects, or 1.6%, had both menstrual irregularity and hirsutism, making a total of 227 probable cases or 13.7 % of the sample likely to have PCOS.

The study has been published in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism.


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