PCOS Review Newsletter #32
Natural Health Ideas for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
A free monthly newsletter for women with ovarian cysts or PCOS.
Issue #032 April 15, 2006 Bill Slater, Research Associate
1) Are You "Programming" Your Future Daughter for PCOS?
PCOS is a disorder characterized by excessive male hormones (androgens), polycystic ovaries, lack of ovulation, insulin resistance and possibly abdominal obesity. Although noticeable during adolescence, emerging data suggests that polycystic ovary syndrome may originate in the womb.
According to a recent study from the University of Ioannina in Greece, a combination of genetic and environmental factors appear to cause the female fetus to be exposed to excessive levels of male hormones. Consequently, some of the growing fetal tissues become "programmed" or predisposed toward the development of PCOS problems in adult life.
Evidence from experimental, clinical and genetic research supporting the hypothesis for the fetal origins of PCOS was reviewed in this study. For example, female primates exposed to excess androgen in the womb exhibit the features of PCOS during adult life.
Clinical observations also support a potential fetal origin of PCOS. Women with congential fetal androgen excess disorders develop features characteristic of PCOS during adulthood despite the normalization of androgens excess after birth.
Genetic studies indicate that variants of genes regulating the activity or availability of androgens to target tissues are associated with PCOS and increased androgen levels. These gene variants may provide the genetic link to prenatal androgenization in PCOS.
However, as we discuss in our book, the expression of genes is strongly influenced by environmental factors such as diet, exercise, environmental pollution and chronic stress.
As a PCOS mother of your future daughter, your genes and health habits will program or influence the tissues of the developing fetus and thus influence whether she will develop symptoms of PCOS in future years.
You can't control the genes that your daughter inherits from you. But you may be able to favorably influence the future behavior of those genes in her body. You can do this by eating an exceptionally healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise, controlling chronic stress, avoiding recreational drugs and tobacco, and minimizing exposure to all environmental chemicals such as pesticides. Ideally, these measures should be taken before you conceive so that your own genes and maternal environment are able to provide the healthiest environment for your developing fetus.
Xita N et al, Fetal Programming of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome by Androgen Excess: Evidence from Experimental, Clinical and Genetic Association Studies, J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Mar 7; [Epub ahead of print]
Abbott DH, et al, Contributions of androgen and estrogen to fetal programming of ovarian dysfunction, Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2006 Apr 10;4(1):17
2) Study Confirms Lower-Carb Diet Improves PCOS
As you may know, one of the things our PCOS diet book advocates is a reduction in consumption of carbohydrates.
The University of Alabama has confirmed the efficacy of our approach.
In this study, women with polycystic ovary syndrome consumed two different diets. Carbohydrates in the low carb diet were 43% of total calories. In the standard diet, 56% of the calories were in the form of carbohydrates.
The women were frequently tested throughout the study. When the low carb diet was consumed, insulin levels were lower and the insulin response to carbs was less. Since the carbohydrate reduction helped to control insulin, there would be a reduced inclination to develop insulin resistance, which many doctors think is a root cause of PCOS.
The study authors conclude: "A moderate reduction in dietary carbohydrate reduced the fasting and post-challenge insulin concentrations among women with PCOS, which, over time, may improve reproductive/endocrine outcomes."
In our book, in addition to recommending a reduction of total carbohydrate consumption, we recommend you change the type of carbs you're eating. Improving the type and quality of carbohydrate you consume will result in faster progress toward control of PCOS symptoms and better overall health.
Douglass CC et al,Role of diet in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome, Fertil Steril. 2006 Mar;85(3):679-88.
3) Do You Have Bipolar Depression?
Preliminary evidence from the Department of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York suggests there may be an intrinsic link between PCOS and bipolar depression.
Previous reports have attributed PCOS to valproate treatment in women with bipolar disorder and with epilepsy. Valproate is a drug used for bipolar depression and for epileptic seizures. Bipolar depression is a mood disorder characterized by the alternation of manic and depressive states.
The Mt. Sinai study sought to determine the prevalence of bipolar depression in PCOS women who had not taken valproate.
Seventy-eight women with PCOS were given a self-assessment questionnaire for bipolar disorder. 28% were classified as bipolar based either on the questionnaire or a previous diagnosis of bipolar depression. Nearly all (97%) had not been exposed to valproate before their PCOS diagnosis.
These preliminary findings suggest a higher rate of bipolar depression among women with PCOS than in the general population, independent of an association with valproate.
Women with polycystic ovary syndrome tend to have an abnormal functioning of the hypothalamus and pituitary glands in the brain, and the reproductive system. This same abnormal function may also contribute to bipolar depression.
This study suggests that perhaps one in four women with PCOS also have possible bipolar depression. If you feel depressed, you're not alone!
Counseling and drug therapy is available. Of course, improving your health and lifestyle helps both PCOS and depression. One example of many is omega-3 fats, which are found primarily in fish, vegetation, and some nuts and seeds. Omega-3 fats help to relieve both PCOS and depression. Consult our book for details.
Klipstein KG et al,Screening for bipolar disorder in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: A pilot study, J Affect Disord. 2006 Apr;91(2-3):205-9.
Joffe H et al,Valproate Is Associated with New-Onset Oligoamenorrhea with Hyperandrogenism in Women with Bipolar Disorder, Biol Psychiatry. 2006 Jan 28; [Epub ahead of print].
Thought for Today: "All our dreams can come true -- if we have the courage to pursue them." -- Walt Disney<
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