UBC’s CeMCOR (The Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research) has published an important article in Scientific Reports discussing bone health in women with PCOS. The full article is accessible at: www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-03685-x
Corresponding Author: Shirin Kalyan (email@example.com)
Inflammation Obliterates the Bone Protection of Women with PCOS
Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition which affects 5-10% of reproductive-aged women, often experience far apart or absent menstrual cycles without normal ovulation, excess androgens (male-type hormones),hirsutism (unwanted facial and body hair), obesity, and insulin resistance which increases their risk for type 2 diabetes. Because of the tendency for increased body weight and higher androgens, women with PCOS have traditionally been thought to be protected against osteoporosis (abnormal bone loss). However, a new study by University of British Columbia researchers published in Scientific Reports has found that
inflammation is increased in women with PCOS and this may compromise their bone quality.
This study, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, studied premenopausal women ages 35-47 with and without a diagnosis of PCOS. It examined forearm (radial) bone, muscle and bone strength by peripheral quantitative computed tomography, and total hip bone density. Compared to those without PCOS, women with PCOS had higher weight, waist, and muscle mass measurements. However, despite these bone protective factors, hip and radial bone densities did not differ between women with and without PCOS, which may be related to the increased inflammation in those with PCOS.
According to Dr. Shirin Kalyan, the study’s first and corresponding author, there were surprising differences between women with and without PCOS in terms of which characteristics were related to bone density and strength. “We found that higher weight and larger muscles did not have the same protective influence on bone in women with PCOS as they did in controls [women without PCOS]. Instead, there was a strong relationship between more inflammation and lower radial bone strength.” Increased inflammation was also linked to greater waist circumference and the current use of birth control pills.
“This study needs to be repeated in larger groups of women, and broken bones should also be tracked as the women with and without PCOS grow older,” cautioned Dr. Jerilynn Prior, an author on this study and Scientific Director of the Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research (www.cemcor.ca).
In the future, those caring for women with PCOS should consider bone health in the management of their health care.