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Andrea Dunaif Part 3, What Causes PCOS?

In part 3 of this Exclusive Interview, Andrea Dunaif talks with Diabetes in Control Medical Editor Joy Pape about what causes PCOS and the major genetic link found in PCOS diagnosis.

Andrea Dunaif, MD is system chief of endocrinology, diabetes & bone disease for Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Health System in New York, NY.

Transcript of this video segment:

Pape: And so, what causes PCOS?

Dunaif: What causes PCOS? Well, we know now that there’s an important genetic susceptibility. In fact, about — if you have a sister with PCOS, about 40% of women with a sister with PCOS have some form of the syndrome, about half of those sisters have the classic syndrome with the irregular periods and the high androgens, but the other half have high androgens. And so, 40% of sisters of women with PCOS having the syndrome is a really important risk that should lead to screening of families when we see a woman with PCOS. There have now been several big genome-wide association studies for mapping genes. And a number of genes have been found in PCOS of Chinese ancestry and of PCOS of European ancestry. And there’s a very interesting study where they use women who participated in 23andMe, who self reported PCOS and they have some of the same genes that cause PCOS in very well-diagnosed women. So, I think that women often by going on the internet are able to make an accurate self diagnosis with PCOS, which makes it all the more ridiculous that physicians say it’s difficult to diagnose and they can’t do it themselves.

Pape: Yeah. Which brings me — I remember something you taught me years ago was you said this could be a misnamed disease, if you want to call it that. And I remember asking, when you talk about the family and doing genetic testing, I remember asking you — because of learning that a lot of these symptoms were also in males in my family. And I remember you saying that you — I looked into studies and a lot of the men died early, we couldn’t really get the studies done, that was years ago. Now, I know we don’t have time to in this interview, but it’s something to look into. Is it insulin resistance in women? Is it — you were saying, is does it go beyond women. And when you’re talking about family, that brought that to mind.

Dunaif:  Just briefly the men do have increased insulin resistance, increased risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome, so it’s not for women only.

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