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Women's Health

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Diet Drug May Treat Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Xenical Helps Drop Pounds in Patients With a Condition That Causes Infertility

Drug Comparison continued...

Next, the women started a weight maintenance diet.

Eight weeks later, 11 women were given 500 mg of Metformin three times daily for three months.

The other 10 women received 120 mg of Xenical three times daily before each meal, also for three months.

Xenical has not been proven to help PCOS, and it does not affect appetite. Taken before meals, it blocks dietary fat from being absorbed.

By the study's end, the Xenical group had a 4.7% weight loss, compared with 1.02% for the Metformin group. Both groups had similar reductions in the level of the male hormone testosterone. Menstrual and ovulation changes weren't monitored, due to the study's size and short length.

"We know that Metformin is a proven and effective treatment for women with polycystic ovary syndrome," says Andrea Dunaif, MD, in a news release. Dunaif is president-elect of The Endocrine Society and is a professor and chair of the endocrinology division at Northwestern University's medical school in Chicago.

"This study suggests that weight loss medications may be an effective treatment option for not only the obesity but also the testosterone excess associated with PCOS. Further research is clearly warranted to determine where this class of medications will fit into the treatment of PCOS," says Dunaif.

Neither drug significantly affected insulin levels after fasting nor any blood fats measured. Larger studies may yield more information on those topics, say the researchers.

Both drugs had some side effects. Four Metformin patients had mild nausea, two had heartburn, and one had mild abdominal pain. Those symptoms disappeared within four weeks, and no doses were reduced. Two women taking Xenical had mild to moderate flatulence and oily stools occasionally throughout the study.

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