PCOS Review Newsletter #141
A free health newsletter for women with PCOS, polycystic ovaries or ovarian cysts. Issue #141 September 19, 2011
1) Statin Drugs May Be Better than Metformin for P C O S
As you probably know, metformin (Glucophage) is a medication frequently prescribed to reduce the symptoms of PCOS.
In our last newsletter, we shared new research showing that NAC was as effective as metformin for treating PCOS. In contrast to metformin, NAC is a nutritional supplement and does not have side effects.
However, if you're a believer in pharmaceuticals and are looking for an alternative to metformin, consider a statin drug.
Statins are used primarily to lower cholesterol. Millions of people are on statin drugs.
We bring this to your attention because a new study compared the effectiveness of statins vs. metformin in a group of women who have PCOS.
The University of California and the Poznan University of Medical Sciences in Poland collaborated on a study of 139 women. They were divided into three groups. The first group took metformin; the second group took simvastatin (a statin drug); the third group took a combination of metformin and simvastatin. The study lasted six months.
The goal of the study was to find out which drug was better at reducing testosterone levels in the women. Excessive testosterone is a main reason why you have PCOS.
Both simvastatin and metformin reduced testosterone by 25%. The combination reduced testosterone by 20%. Both drugs improved menstrual cycles, caused some weight loss, and reduced hirsutism and acne.
The researchers concluded: "Long-term treatment with simvastatin was superior to metformin".
If you don't tolerate metformin very well, you might ask your doctor about taking a statin drug instead.
But there's a slight problem. Statins have their own set of side effects. They suppress production of vitamin D and induce an insufficiency of CoQ10. As a woman, you cannot afford to be low in these essential nutrients. Vitamin D plays a profound role in reducing your symptoms and improving your fertility. CoQ10 is required for energy production in your cells. You cannot produce energy without it.
Recent research is also suggesting that a high dosage level of statins increases risk of developing diabetes, possibly because it increases insulin levels. Please note that insulin levels are already too high in many of you, which is a primary reason you have PCOS in the first place.
Both metformin and statins are a mixed bag of benefits and risks. From our perspective, we view statins as not worth the risk. But if you want to take a pharmaceutical and can't tolerate metformin, a statin drug is an option.
Fortunately, NAC may be as effective as metformin for women with PCOS, plus it does not have the side effects that metformin and statins have.
Banaszewska B et al, Effects of Simvastatin and Metformin on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome after Six Months of Treatment, J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Aug 24. [Epub ahead of print]
Preiss D et al, Risk of incident diabetes with intensive-dose compared with moderate-dose statin therapy: a meta-analysis, JAMA. 2011 Jun 22;305(24):2556-64.
2) Do You Have Thyroiditis?
Thyroidits is an inflammation of your thyroid gland. Thyroiditis disturbs thyroid hormone production, which in turn leads to infertility, failed pregnancies, hair loss, inability to lose weight, lack of energy, and a host of other health issues.
The most common type of thyroiditis is autoimmune thyroiditis, where your own immune attacks your thyroid gland tissues. This disorder is sometimes referred to as Hashimoto's Disease.
Unfortunately, medical studies are continuing to show that women with PCOS have a higher rate of autoimmune thyroiditis than other women do.
We think that every woman who has PCOS should have her thyroid function thoroughly examined by her doctor. But for some unknown reason, many doctors don't bother to do a thyroid assessment. Thus, a potential cause of PCOS symptoms, infertility and pregnancy problems is overlooked.
Note: The most common test for thyroid function is the "TSH" or thyroid stimulating hormone test. However, you can have a "normal" TSH and still have autoimmune thyroiditis. Don't be lulled into complacency just because your doctor says your TSH is normal.
Some of the contributing causes of polycystic ovary syndrome are very subtle. You may need to go beyond a simple TSH test in order to find out whether you have a thyroid hormone problem or not.
Remember, you need optimal thyroid function in order to have a normal period and have the ability to become pregnant.
Oghan F et al, Does hyperandrogenism have an effect on hearing loss in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome? Auris Nasus Larynx. 2011 Aug 20. [Epub ahead of print].
3) Break the Shackles of Defeat
Do you feel that PCOS is a sinister force outside of your control? Do you feel isolated and hopeless? Do you feel your friends and family are unsympathetic and don't understand your situation?
Here's a solution to think about.
TV personality Charlie Rose recently interviewed David Brooks, author of "The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement", which is a book is about the influence of the unconscious mind on our destiny as human beings.
During the interview, Brooks shared a story about a young girl who grows up in poverty with a mom who's suffering from depression and, using her instincts, demands to get into a school that ultimately changes her life. He explains one of the essential points of the story: "If you're in a troubled situation, you probably don't have the faculties to change it yourself. What you need to do is get yourself into a different environment and let that environment's cues change you."
By putting herself in a new environment - the school - this girl was exposed to new routines, discipline, and different people. As a result, she went from a chaotic situation that undermined her success (her home life) to a situation where she now had the potential to create a very different future.
The message of this story is important: When we change our environment, we interrupt the powerful force of unconscious patterns that keep us firmly rooted in failure.
Stop for a moment and think about the implications of this idea on your life and your attitude toward PCOS. If you're stuck in a situation that feels hopeless - like PCOS, a troubled marriage, failed attempts at losing weight, or a life-sucking job that fills you with dread on Monday mornings - it can be overwhelming to even think about making positive changes. But, if you focus purely on changing your environment first, you may just find the key that lets you out of emotional hell.
If you're overweight, for example, and you can't seem to get yourself in shape, there's a good chance you'll need the support of a new environment - a safe and comfortable health club, the beauty of nature for daily walks, an exercise buddy, or the structure of a program from a personal health coach to help you build new patterns for success.
The interview with David was a powerful reminder: Stop trying to create a breakthrough from within a structure that's set up to support failure.
What new environment or structure do you need to create to release yourself from the shackles of defeat?
Tackle an important problem in a new way. Choose something about yourself or your life that you'd like to improve and find a way to change your environment.
Another idea is to change your dietary environment by following a diet similar to the PCOS diet in this ebook.
"The human soul needs actual beauty even more than bread." -- D.H. Lawrence
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