PCOS Review Newsletter #35

Natural Health Ideas for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
A free monthly newsletter for women with ovarian cysts or PCOS.

Issue #035      August 31, 2006 Bill Slater, Research Associate


1) Oral Contraceptives Increase Insulin Resistance in Teenagers

2) Garlic is Good for PCOS

3) Some Fats Reduce Acne

1) Oral Contraceptives Increase Insulin Resistance in Teenagers

If you're a teenager without a regular cycle or have other symptoms of PCOS, your doctor may have told you to just take birth control pills and everything will work itself out. However, successful treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome isn't always that simple.

For one thing, birth control pills are synthetic hormones that have unintended consequences.

The Athens University School of Medicine recently assessed the effect of two different ingredients of birth control pills on 36 adolescent girls with PCOS.

Eighteen girls took a birth control pill containing cyproterone acetate, which is an antiandrogen, i.e., it suppresses the actions of the male hormone testosterone on tissues.

The other 18 girls took a pill containing desogestrel, which is a progestogen (a synthetic mimic of progesterone).

After 12 months of treatment, insulin resistance increased significantly in both groups. In addition, cyproterone acetate is associated with an increase of insulin secretion and higher blood levels of insulin.

There is an increasing body of evidence to show that elevated insulin and the resulting insulin resistance are a primary cause of polycystic ovary syndrome in some women. If this is the case, what is the long term benefit of taking birth control pills if they tend to worsen insulin resistance?

It's not wise to blindly accept the simplistic concept that any pill will magically make your PCOS go away. If you're taking oral contraceptives, we suggest that you take care to consume a very wholesome diet, get plenty of exercise and find effective ways to deal with chronic stress. These measures will reduce insulin resistance and offset possible side effects of oral contraceptives.

Mastorakos G et al, Effects of two forms of combined oral contraceptives on carbohydrate metabolism in adolescents with polycystic ovary syndrome, Fertil Steril. 2006 Feb;85(2):420-7

2) Garlic is Good for PCOS

Women who have polycystic ovary syndrome frequently have elevated blood levels of glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides -- which are indicators of increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. They also experience fatigue or tiredness.

Did you know that garlic can help with all these problems?

Two recent studies of rats have shown rather dramatic favorable results with garlic. In one study, large amounts of raw garlic were effective in reducing glucose (blood sugar), and the blood fats cholesterol and triglycerides. Boiled garlic or relatively low amounts of raw garlic reduced blood fats but not glucose.

In another study, rats given a garlic extract had less fatigue when exercising compared to rats not eating garlic.

We recommend you consume as much garlic as you like. Raw garlic is more effective but cooked garlic is also beneficial. It's an inexpensive and flavorful way to improve your health and help prevent future problems such as cardiovascular disease.

You can add raw garlic slices to soups, salads or any vegetable or cooked dish.

Thomson, M et al, Including garlic in the diet may help lower blood glucose, cholesterol, and triglycerides, J Nutr., 2006; 136(3): 800S-2S
Morihara, N et al, Aged garlic extract ameliorates physical fatigue, Biol Pharm Bull. 2006 May;29(5):962-6

3) Some Fats Reduce Acne

Does eating fatty foods contribute to acne? The answer is both "yes" and "no". It depends on what kind of fats you're consuming.

We have a complete review of good and bad dietary fats in our book, The Natural Diet Solution for PCOS and Infertility.

Here we'll just talk about two of the dietary fats, called "omega-6" and "omega-3". You need a balance of these two fats in order to avoid a host of chronic health disorders. Before modern foods were invented, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats was 1:1. In other words, your ancestors consumed an equal amount of each fat in their diet.

Unfortunately, the typical western diet gives you a very unbalanced and unhealthy ratio of these fats. The current omega-6 to omega-3 fat ratio in the western diet can be as high as 20:1, meaning that we consume twenty times as much omega-6 as omega-3 fats.

The consequences are health problems of all kinds, including acne.

A diet high in omega-3 fats may help to prevent acne. They inhibit the clumping of cells in hair follicles, which can plug up the follicle and lead to acne.

In contrast, some omega-6 fats can be metabolized into an inflammatory substance called LB4. High levels of LB4 are associated with acne.

Omega-6 fats are commonly found in vegetable oils, margarine and refined convenience foods of all kinds.

Where can you get more of the beneficial omega-3 fats in your diet? Good sources are cold water fish, wild game and some vegetables such as greens. A very convenient source is cod liver oil.

However, some people object to eating fish or dislike the fishy taste of cod liver oil. In this case, the most convenient source is capsules of highly concentrated fish oil called "EPA/DHA.".

EPA/DHA fish oil capsules combined with the dietary guidelines described on our book provide a good foundation for reducing the risk of developing acne.

Logan AC,Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Acne, Arch Dermatol, July 2003;139:941-942

Thought for Today: "Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.." -- Lou Holtz

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