Why PCOS Leads to Diabetes

There has long been an association between polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and diabetes, but researchers were never exactly clear on why this link exists.

Now, however, a study published by the American Physiological Society reveals more about the connection, reporting that inflammation is the main cause of increased diabetes risk in women with PCOS.

Researchers focused their study on beta cells - which have been found to poorly function in patients with PCOS. Beta cells are produced in the pancreas and are responsible for making insulin. The study found that women with PCOS - whether lean or obese - had more inflammatory responses compared to women without PCOS, and obese women with PCOS had more beta cell impairment than their peers without the condition.

Moreover, beta cell function became more and more degraded as inflammation became more active, the researchers reported.

The inflammation factor

According to the American Diabetes Association, high insulin levels can worsen PCOS symptoms due to the production of androgen. In general, PCOS can cause high glucose levels and raise a woman's risk for gestational diabetes.

Being able to understand precisely how the inflammatory response interferes with beta cells will be the next step, researchers said.

"Our findings highlight the need for further investigation to determine the mechanism by which inflammation interacts with the pancreatic [beta cells] to increase diabetes risk in PCOS," the team wrote.

Source: American Physiological Society,
American Diabetes Association

Image courtesy of marin/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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