A new study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) have twice the risk of developing a blood clot when taking oral birth control. One of the study researchers, Dr. Christopher McCartney, told Reuters: "For some women, [the risks] might be high enough to say we really shouldn't use the pill, such as for women over 35 who smoke." PCOS affects 5-10 percent of women and occurs when there is an imbalance of the sex hormones: estrogen, progesterone and androgen. Some of the symptoms of this condition are cysts on the ovaries, irregular menstrual periods, extra hair growth as well as higher risk of obesity, hypertension and diabetes. According to Reuters, women with PCOS also have more risk factors for heart disease. The study began in 2001 and involved 43,506 women with PCOS who were between the ages of 18 and 46. Researchers compared the health information from the women with PCOS with information gathered from 43,506 women without PCOS. They found the risk of blood clots for women on oral contraceptives with PCOS was double that of women without PCOS. Other findings also indicated that women with PCOS were more likely to be obese – 33 percent more likely, in fact. McCartney told Reuters: "I really think [obesity] could be something that's contributing to the risk."
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