Black women with polycystic ovary syndrome have increased risk for metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease compared with white women without PCOS

Black adolescents and adult women with PCOS have an increased risk of metabolic syndrome compared with their white counterparts. These findings differ from population-based controls and are independent of obesity in adults.

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Jennifer K. Hillman, M.D., Lauren N. Johnson, M.D., Meghana Limaye, B.S., Rebecca A. Feldman, M.D., Mary Sammel, D.S., Anuja Dokras, M.D., Ph.D.

Volume 101, Issue 2, Pages 530-535, February 2014



To determine the prevalence of metabolic syndrome (MetSyn) and Framingham cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk in white and black adolescents and adult women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) compared with controls.


Retrospective cohort study.


Center for PCOS.


Subjects with PCOS with data on race and cardiometabolic risk (n = 519). Controls were age and race matched from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) population (1999–2006).



Main Outcome Measure(s):

MetSyn, coronary heart disease risk, and general CVD risk.


Black adolescents and young adults with PCOS had an increased prevalence of MetSyn compared with their white counterparts (adolescents relative risk 2.65 [95% confidence interval 1.29–5.4], adults relative risk 1.44 [95% confidence interval 1.21–2.6]). In contrast, there was no difference in risk of MetSyn between black and white adolescents and adult women in the NHANES dataset. After controlling for age and body mass index, black women with PCOS had a significantly increased prevalence of low high-density lipoprotein and high glucose. The general CVD risk was significantly increased in black adults with PCOS.


This is the first study to comprehensively demonstrate increased risk of MetSyn in both black adolescents and adult women with PCOS compared with white subjects with PCOS. This racial disparity was not present in the NHANES controls. Longitudinal studies are needed to assess the independent impact of PCOS and race on CVD risk in women.

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Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders.