Women with polycystic ovary syndrome may face increased risk of death

People with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) have a 47% increased risk for death at a younger age compared with those without the condition, according to research being presented on Sunday at ENDO 2023, the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in Chicago, Ill.

PCOS is a common cause of infertility in women, and it occurs in 7% to 10% of women of reproductive age. Women with PCOS may have higher than normal levels of testosterone and other reproductive hormones called androgens, irregular periods, and/or cysts on the ovaries. The condition raises the risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular conditions.

“The results highlight the need for improving the care of diabetes, lung infections and cardiovascular diseases to prevent the excess mortality of women with PCOS,” said co-author Terhi Piltonen, M.D., Ph.D., of University of Oulu and Oulu University Hospital in Oulu, Finland.

Piltonen and colleagues conducted a register-based case-controlled study to challenge the limited data within the literature on the risk for mortality among people with PCOS. They identified women with PCOS in the Finnish Care Register for Health Care using ICD codes.

The controls in the study were matched based on their year of birth and where they lived. Piltonen and colleagues included the records of 9,839 women with PCOS and 70,705 controls for the study.

Of the studied population, 1,003 controls and 177 women with PCOS died during the follow-up period, spanning the years 1969-2019. The data suggest women with PCOS died significantly younger than the controls. In an additional analysis, the women with PCOS had an increased risk for death as well as a greater risk for death due to tumors as well as endocrine, nutrition, metabolic diseases and cardiovascular disease. Similarly, overall mortality was also increased among women with PCOS due to disease of the cardiovascular system and tumors.

Specifically, diabetes, circulatory system disease and bronchitis increased mortality among women with PCOS.

“The major finding of this study is that women with PCOS had 47 percent higher risk for overall mortality than control women. The mortality due to diseases of the cardiovascular system was increased by 67 percent and mortality due to tumors by 38 percent when compared to the control group. Women with PCOS also had triple the risk of death due to diabetes and lung infection,” Piltonen said.

“PCOS is a severe lifelong syndrome that increases mortality,” Piltonen said. “More resources should be targeted on the prevention of PCOS-related diseases.”

The Endocrine Society has more than 18,000 members, including scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in 122 countries. To learn more about the Society and the field of endocrinology, visit our site at www.endocrine.org. Follow us on Twitter at @TheEndoSociety and @EndoMedia.

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