Women with polycystic ovary syndrome may be more likely to suffer memory and thinking problems in middle age, warns a new study.
The condition, known as PCOS is a hormonal disorder that is defined by irregular menstruation and elevated levels of a hormone called androgen.
This condition causes symptoms such as excess hair growth, acne, infertility and poor metabolic health.
PCOS has been previously linked with obesity and diabetes, which can both lead to heart problems.
Now, a new study has discovered that the condition is also linked with memory problems and accelerated brain aging.
To get their results, published in Neurology, the team studied 907 women who were 18-30 years old, testing them on their memory, verbal abilities, processing speed and attention.
One example of these tests had participants looking at a list of words in different colors and were asked to state the color of the ink rather than read the actual word.
Researchers found for this test, people with polycystic ovary syndrome had an average score that was approximately 11 percent lower compared to people without the condition.
Overall, people with polycystic ovary syndrome had lower scores on three of the five tests that were given, specifically in areas of memory, attention, and verbal abilities.
At years 25 and 30 of the study the researchers conducted a brain scan with a smaller group.
They discovered that people with polycystic ovary syndrome had lower white matter integrity, which may indicate early evidence of brain aging.
Dr. Heather Huddleston from the University of California, San Francisco, said: “Polycystic ovary syndrome is a common reproductive disorder that impacts up to 10 percent of women.
“While it has been linked to metabolic diseases like obesity and diabetes that can lead to heart problems, less is known about how this condition affects brain health.
“Our results suggest that people with this condition have lower memory and thinking skills and subtle brain changes at midlife.
“This could impact a person on many levels, including quality of life, career success and financial security.”
The team note that more research is needed to confirm their finding, and they hope to discover more ways to prevent sufferers of PCOS from having cognitive decline.
Dr Huddleston added: “Additional research is needed to confirm these findings and to determine how this change occurs, including looking at changes that people can make to reduce their chances of thinking and memory problems.
“Making changes like incorporating more cardiovascular exercise and improving mental health may serve to also improve brain aging for this population.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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