in one study, one in every seven pcos girls had already developed endometrial cancer by age 22
What was once labeled “benign premature adrenarche” is clearly not be so benign after all. The early signs of puberty (pubic hair, body odor) in girls younger than nine is often the first visible evidence of virilization caused by abnormally high androgen levels, followed by polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in adolescence.
Adolescent girls with PCOS often suffer from acne that persists into adulthood, as well as unwanted facial and body hair. Though some PCOS girls remain thin, many will experience an exceptional weight gain just prior to menarche, often to the point of obesity. Most PCOS girls experience hyperinsulinism (metabolic syndrome X) and irregular menstrual periods.
PCOS women suffer an increased risk of endometrial cancer, Type II diabetes, infertility, and cardiovascular disease.
In follow-up of adults who had adolescent PCOS, testosterone remained high in the majority, all remained anovulatory, weight remained elevated, glucose tolerance worsened, and 1 of 7 developed endometrial carcinoma by age 22.
Medscape 2002: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in Adolescence
The widespread increase in cases of premature adrenarche had been dismissed by some in the medical profession as “growing up early.” If your doctor uses such terms, get another doctor. Early treatment is essential. There is now a wide consensus that premature adrenarche must be taken seriously:
Recent studies have shown that premature adrenarche in childhood may have consequences such as functional ovarian hyperandrogenism, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and insulin resistance in later life, sometimes already recognizable in childhood or adolescence…. Many girls with premature adrenarche show not only hyperinsulinemia already in the prepubertal period but also an increased incidence of ovulatory dysfunction, functional ovarian hyperandrogenism, dyslipidemia, and obesity at adolescence, indicating long-term follow-up of these patients into adulthood.
Endocrine Reviews 21 (6): 671-696
See discussion of the newest devices for pubic hair removal at home.
virilization, premature adrenarche, premature pubarche, exaggerated adrenarche
Early treatment with metformin has been shown in several studies to lower androgen levels, help reduce weight, increase insulin sensitivity and help prevent diabetes.
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