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Oral contraceptives are known to be one of most common ways to manage symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Now a new study led by the University of Birmingham indicates that contraceptive pills can even reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by over a quarter in women with the PCOS.
According to the research findings published in the journal Diabetes Care, women with PCOS are at twice the risk of developing type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes (dysglycemia). This presses the need to find treatments to cut this risk, and a second study investigated the impact of the pill on type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes. The scientists found that the use of combined oral contraceptives reduced the odds of developing type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes in women with PCOS by 26 per cent.
PCOS affects 10 per cent of women worldwide, according to reports. Apart from the risk of type 2 diabetes, it can also lead to long-term issues such as endometrial cancer, cardiovascular disease, and non-alcohol related fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Weight gain is also a common symptom of PCOS, and the cells in the body of women with the condition, are often less responsive to insulin – the hormone that allows the body to absorb glucose (blood sugar) into the cells for energy.
This can lead to elevated blood glucose levels and can cause the body to make more insulin, which in turn causes the body to make more androgens. The androgens further increase insulin levels.
As PCOS and diabetes are closely interconnected, it is recommended that women with PCOS should undergo screening for type 2 diabetes, says Dr Uma Vaidyanathan, a senior consultant at obstetrics and gynaecology department, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh.
Dr Michael O’Reilly, Health Research Board Emerging Clinician Scientist and Clinical Associate Professor at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, the joint first author on the study, said: “We hypothesise that the pill reduces the risk of diabetes by dampening the action of androgens. How does this work? The pill contains oestrogens which increase a protein in the blood called sex hormone-binding globin (SHBG). SHBG binds androgens and, thereby, renders them inactive. Thus, if the pill is taken, SHBG increases. This decreases the amount of unbound, active androgens, lowering their impact on insulin and diabetes risk.”
(With Inputs from ANI)