Metformin Melts Fat and PCOS Away

Polycystic ovary syndrome prevented or delayed with metformin

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Whacked out hormones cause polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition which is thought to affect seven percent of all women, cause period problems and appearance changes.

Polycystic ovary syndrome is also the leading cause of infertility and is thought to affect 7 to 10 percent of all women in childbearing age.

In an effort to prevent the development of PCOS, Spanish researchers found that treating young pre-adolescent girls with the diabetes drug metformin was effective in stopping the development of PCOS.

"Girls with early puberty may prevent PCOS with metformin."

This study's senior author, Lourdes Ibáñez, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pediatrics at the University of Barcelona, Spain observes that metformin given in puberty may have the ability to reprogram metabolism towards less abdominal and liver fat production.

She recommends that in following studies, attention should be directed towards treatment of PCOS before puberty to prevent early onset of PCOS and its associated health problems.

Additionally, Dr. Ibáñez explains that PCOS often begins in adolescence and presents with irregular menstrual cycles, too much body hair or acne. Stressing diet, exercise and early treatment with metformin may be a way to prevent PCOS.

OB/GYNs believe that the critical years for PCOS development may be during childhood and puberty when large amounts of fat are being stored. Too much weight gain overexposes ovaries to insulin, which causes them to stop ovulating and start releasing male hormones, which results in PCOS.

In this study of 38 girls who had low birth weights and early onset of menstruation, researchers compared the efficacy of early versus late metformin treatment when trying to prevent adolescent PCOS. The first group of 19, eight-year-old girls were treated with daily doses of metformin for four years. The second group of 19 began their metformin treatment at the age of 13 and were only treated for one year.

The researchers found that the earlier, longer metformin therapy delayed or even prevented the development of hirsutism, androgen excess and PCOS more effectively than late metformin treatment.

The study will be published in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

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Review Date: 
June 29, 2011
Last Updated:
July 3, 2011