Review of data on women with PCOS in Latin America

Posted January 13, 2022

In order to provide an overview of the available evidence on the metabolic profile of Latin American women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the team at INCT Hormona Headquarters, at Hospital de Clinicas de Porto Alegre (RS), conducted a systematic review on the topic. The article “Metabolic Features of Women With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in Latin America:A Systematic Reviewcan be read in full at:

According to one of the authors of the study, Dr. Lucas Bandeira Marchesan, although PCOS is the most prevalent endocrine disorder in women of childbearing age, few data are available about women with PCOS living in Latin America. ‘Often, the available data are extrapolated from other populations, such as the North American, European, and even Asian populations, but, because the phenotypic expression of PCOS can be influenced by genetic traits and lifestyle, these regional data become necessary,’ says the expert. ‘In some populations, such as those in Europe and Southeast Asia, for example, we can observe more subtle metabolic changes, associated with PCOS, than in populations of highly industrialized countries, such as in North America,’ he explains.

According to the article, PubMed, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and Embase databases were searched for cross-sectional, case-control, or cohort studies focusing on populations of countries in South and Central America and Mexico, published until October 31, 2019. Studies reporting the diagnostic criteria for PCOS were selected. The initial search yielded 4878 papers, of which 41 were included in the systematic review.

Dr. Lucas explains that the first conclusion the researchers reached is that phenotypes A and B (Rotterdam criteria), which are associated with a larger number of cardiometabolic changes (such as obesity, high blood pressure, altered glucose and cholesterol levels, and insulin resistance), are the most prevalent ones in the population of women with PCOS in Latin America. ‘We also observed that these cardiometabolic variables were worse in women with PCOS who live in different Latin American countries than in those without PCOS living in the same region,’ he says. ‘In addition to the genetic influence, these changes may be explained by the dietary habits observed in this population, such as high consumption of processed foods and low consumption of whole grains, vegetables, and fish. This was demonstrated in a recent study evaluating dietary habits in Latin America,’ explains the doctor.

For Dr. Lucas, the data from the review serve as a guide for public policies, which should focus on encouraging healthy lifestyle habits, especially a more natural diet. Recommendations include increased consumption of vegetables and reduced consumption of ultra-processed foods and sugars. ‘In addition, campaigns promoting physical activity and the development of leisure spaces should be part of these programs. These measures can play a decisive role in mitigating the metabolic changes associated with this highly prevalent syndrome, and may reduce morbidity and, possibly, unfavorable cardiovascular outcomes,’ he concludes.