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The PCOS Solution

The connection between PCOS and inflammation and what you can do

Sunday, April 17, 2016
Source click via MorgueFile

Knowledge about the underlying cause/s of PCOS is growing. Here’s what I’ve found from reviewing a few recent papers (listed at the end of this post)

- Inflammation is becoming recognised now as the dysfunction underlying insulin resistance. This may explain why PCOS happens in slim as well as overweight women.

- Although insulin resistance and obesity promote PCOS, it is proposed that perhaps the true underlying cause is inflammation.

- There’s a strong intertwining of cause and effect; fat cells stimulated by excess androgen promote inflammation, and inflammation promotes excess androgen production. They affect each other.

- The inflammation changes the function of the ovaries, disrupting the ovulation process (which utilises a controlled amount of inflammation to ovulate).

- C-reactive protein, a biochemical marker of inflammation, is greatly increased in women with PCOS regardless of BMI.

And now on to some practical steps: Here is what you can do:

Beyond the theory, this is what the scientists established in studying the effects of diet on ovary function in mice: Saturated fats (butter, coconut oil, red meat) and trans-fats (from processed foods), omega-6 oils (from modern foods) and sugary foods are believed to promote inflammation. Eating more omega-3 oils (from seafood for instance) can help restore the balance. 


And exercise, of course. That’s fundamental to overcoming PCOS, and one of its markers, insulin resistance.  But how much do you need to do? The Rich-Edwards et al paper crunched data from the Nurses Health Study (a large epidemiological study) and found that for every one hour of vigorous activity there is a 5% reduction in infertility, regardless of weight and diet. So, imagine what you could achieve with an hour of intense fitness training every day or so!

If you enjoyed this article, you might also enjoy 'Quenching The Fires of Inflammation'

Want to delve into the papers? Here they are. (The Boots paper includes a useful model)

Alanbay et al (2012) ‘A macrophage activation market chitotriosidase in women with PCOS: Does low-grade chronic inflammation in PCOS relate to PCOS itself or obesity?’ Arch Gynecol Obstet 286:1065-1071 DOI 10.1007/s00404-012-2425-0

Boots, C & Jungheim, E.S (2015) ‘Inflammation and Human Ovarian Follicular Dynamics’ Semin Reprod Med July 33(4) 270-275 doi: 10.1055/s-0035-1554928

Dhindsa G, Bhatia R, Dhindsa M, Bhatia V (2004) ‘Insulin Resistance Insulin Sensitization and Inflammation in Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome’ J Postgrad Med Vol 50 Issue 2

Dumitrescu, R et al ‘The Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: An update on metabolic and hormonal mechanisms’ Journal of Medicine and Life Vol 8 Issue 2 pp. 142-145 

González, F (2015) ‘Nutrient-induced inflammation in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Role in the development of Metabolic Aberration and Ovarian Dysfunction’ Seminars in Reproductive Medicine Vol 33(4) pp. 276-86 DOI 10.1055/2-0035-1554918

Kurt et al (2014) ‘The effect of obesity on inflammatory markers in patients with PCOS: a BMI-matched case-control study’ Arch Gynecol Obstet 290:315-319 DOI 10.1007/s00404-014-3199-3

Rich-Edwards et al (2002) ‘Physical activity, body mass index and ovulatory disorder infertility’ Epidemiology Vol 13 (2) pp. 184-90

Shorakae et al (2015) ‘The emerging role of chronic low-grade inflammation in the pathophysiology of polycystic ovary syndrome’ Seminars in Reproductive Medicine’ Vol 33(4) pp. 257-69 DOI 10.1055/s-0035-1556568

Spritzer et al (2015) ‘Adipose tissue dysfunction, adipokines, and low grade chronic inflammation in polycystic ovary syndrome’ Reproduction 149 R219-R227 DOI: 10.1530/REP-14-0435

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