Birth control shot may increase diabetes risk in obese women

Obese women who use the birth control shot Depo-Provera may increase their risk for developing type 2 diabetes, according to a research study from University of Southern California.

The USC researchers studied 15 women, 5 who were normal weight and 10 who were overweight. They compared the insulin sensitivity, body mass index, blood sugar and cholesterol levels of the women before their first injection with Depo-Provera and 18 weeks afterward. They received a second injection 12 weeks after the initial injection.

Both normal-weight and obese women became more insulin resistant after receiving Depo-Provera, according to the researchers. However, the normal-weight women were able to compensate by producing more insulin to lower their blood glucose levels.

Researchers concluded that weight gain, an increase in insulin resistance, or both are linked to the increased risk for diabetes among obese women who use this contraceptive.

“Obese women have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other cardiovascular diseases. They also have an increased risk for pregnancy complications,” said Penina Segall-Gutierrez, assistant professor at the Keck School of Medicine at USC and lead author of the study. “We don't want to prescribe a contraceptive that will push these women from borderline hyperglycemic to diabetic.”

Prescribing the right contraceptive

The study recommends that overweight women consider other forms of long-term birth control, like intrauterine contraception.

Marketed as Depo-Provera, depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) is a progestin-only contraceptive injected every three months.

Progestin-only birth control are the only hormonal contraceptives recommended by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for obese women ages 35 years and older.

According to USC, most oral contraceptives are not recommended for obese women because they increase the risk of developing blood clots, which obese women are more susceptible to than normal-weight women.

Segall-Gutierrez said that future research should focus on how obese women using nonhormonal contraception compare with those using DMPA.

The study appears in the January 2012 issue of the journal Contraception.

Source: University of Southern California

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