What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)? PCOS is one of the most common hormonal endocrine disorders in women. There are many signs and symptoms that a woman may experience. For example, some symptoms include irregular menstrual cycle, acne, hirsutism (increased hair growth on the face, chest, stomach, back, thumbs, or toes) and weight gain. Additionally, PCOS cannot be diagnosed with one test alone and symptoms vary from woman to woman. Early diagnosis of PCOS is important as it has been linked to an increased risk for developing several medical conditions including insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
So is there a link between PCOS and breast cancer? Studies have not found a link between PCOS and breast cancer formally. The Danish Cohort Study found a link between PCOS and endometrial cancer; however, this risk could be because of possible cysts on the ovaries that may occur in some women with PCOS.
Although research has not found a direct link between PCOS and breast cancer, research has found a link between diabetes and breast cancer. PCOS predisposes women to major medical conditions. This includes obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. According to the Long Term Health Consequences of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: A Review Analysis, while women with PCOS are not at an increased risk for breast cancer, there is still a risk for breast cancer. Obesity, diabetes, hormonal irregularity, and infertility are some known risk factors to developing breast cancer – and PCOS may cause these risk factors to develop. In the same study, a positive association between PCOS and the presence of family history of breast cancer was found.
“In a study of 217 women the proportion of women with positive family history of breast cancer was significantly higher in women with PCOS compared with controls.”
It is important that women talk to their doctors about this condition. If you experience some of these symptoms – irregular or absent menstrual cycles, acne, increased hair growth, and infertility, be sure to talk to your doctor. Although there is treatment, there is no cure. Treatment often manages symptoms. However, the best treatment is a change in diet and lifestyle. Some ways to begin this change is to eat a balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. Along with diet, begin a regular exercise routine. Sometimes weight loss can balance your hormones and treat your PCOS symptoms. So it’s never too late to start an exercise routine and clean eating!
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