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Fertility damaged by 'fat gene'

17th March 2009

Scientists from Oxford and Imperial College London have found women with an inherited gene that increases the danger of obesity also have an increased risk of polycystic ovaries.

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50% of white Europeans have a copy of the FTO gene, which the researchers believe could cause polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and affect fertility.

The team set out a presentation of their work at an endocrinology meeting in Harrogate.

Dr Tom Barber and his colleagues looked at the type of FTO gene carried by 463 patients with PCOS and 1,336 other women.

The discovered that women who had PCOS were far more likely to have the FTO version of the gene, especially those who were overweight.

Previous studies have determined that PCOS is connected to obesity and the new research has shown there is a genetic reason for the connection.

Dr Barber stated: "PCOS is an incredibly common condition affecting one in 10 women of reproductive age and is a leading cause of infertility."

He added that their research showed the FTO gene "influences susceptibility" to PCOS.

"These data provide the first genetic evidence to corroborate the well documented association between these two conditions," he said.

He added that women who were overweight or gained weight had more likelihood of developing PCOS and losing even a small amount of weight could really help.

Dr Barber said they intended to carry out a "genome-wide study" in order to identify all the genes which affected PCOS and obesity.

 

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