Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine-metabolic disorder that affects approximately 6-10% of women of child-bearing age. Although preliminary studies suggest that certain pollutants may act as endocrine disruptors in animals, little is known about their potential association with PCOS. The objective of this case-control pilot study is to determine whether women with PCOS have higher concentrations of specific environmental contaminants compared to women who have not developed PCOS.
Fifty-two PCOS case-patients (diagnosed using the National Institutes of Health 1990 definition) and 50 controls were recruited in 2007–2008, from an urban academic medical center in Los Angeles, CA. Brominated diphenyl ethers, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organochlorine pesticides, and perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) were measured in serum, and phthalates metabolites and bisphenol A (BPA) in urine.
PCOS case-patients had significantly higher geometric mean (GM) serum concentrations of two PFCs: perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) (GM cases = 4.1 μg/L, GM controls = 2.3 μg/L; p = 0.001) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) (GM cases = 8.2 μg/L, GM controls = 4.9 μg/L; p = 0.01), and lower urinary concentrations of monobenzyl phthalate (mBzP) (GM cases = 7.5 μg/g creatinine, GM controls = 11.7 μg/g creatinine; p = 0.02). Logistic regression, controlling for body mass index, age and race, identified an increased likelihood of PCOS in subjects with higher serum concentrations of PFOA and PFOS (adjusted-ORs = 5.8–6.9, p < 0.05), and with lower urine concentrations of mBzP and mono-n-butyl phthalate (mBP) (aORs = 0.14–0.25, p < 0.05).
Our data suggest that PCOS case-patients may differ from controls in their environmental contaminant profile. PCOS subjects had higher serum concentrations of two PFCs, PFOA and PFOS, and lower urine concentrations of mBP and mBzP. Future studies are needed to confirm these preliminary findings and determine if these chemicals or their precursors may have a role in the pathogenesis of PCOS.