Which lifestyle and environmental factors contribute to PCOS?

In a nutshell

This study looked at different risk factors associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). The authors found that smoking, meat-heavy diets, and the use of plastic tableware were associated with PCOS.

Some background

PCOS is a female metabolic disorder. Women with PCOS have higher levels of testosterone and be less likely to produce multiple eggs. Women with PCOS are also more likely to be overweight, which can increase the risk of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Sleep apnea blocks the airways during sleep and briefly stops breathing (snoring).

Genetics and environmental factors such as diet both contribute to PCOS. However, the environmental factors which lead to PCOS are less well understood.

Methods & findings

This study had 2217 women with PCOS and 279 women without PCOS (control group). Among women with PCOS, 1979 women rarely or never produced eggs (Group 1). 238 patients had high testosterone levels and ovarian cysts, but still had regular cycles (Group 2). 

Women with PCOS were significantly older and had higher body weights than the control group. In the PCOS group, significantly more women (29.3%, Group 1 vs. 18.1%, Group 2) reported snoring compared to the control group (11.5%).

In the PCOS group, significantly more women smoked or were exposed to secondhand cigarette smoke  (37.7%, Group 1 vs. 28.1%, Group 2). 12.2% of women in the control group smoked or were exposed to cigarette smoke.

Among women with PCOS, significantly more patients in Group 1 had diets heavy in meat compared to Group 2 (54.6% vs. 41.3%). More women in Group 1 (38.3%) also used plastic tableware (plates, forks, etc.) compared to Group 2 (28.1%) and the control group (25.4%).

Methods & findings
The bottom line

This study found that environmental factors were associated with PCOS. These factors included smoking, eating meat, and using plastic tableware.

The fine print

This study was based on self-reported survey questions, which may influence results. More studies on the effects of diet on PCOS are needed.

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Published By: BMC endocrine disorders
Date: Nov 11, 2020
Original Title: Lifestyle and environmental contributions to ovulatory dysfunction in women of polycystic ovary syndrome.

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