Insulin Resistance: Is this the Missing Link to Understanding the Chronic Health Epidemic in Women?

The world over, women in their millions are dying every year due to chronic illnesses afflicting women more than men such as cardiovascular diseases or afflicting them exclusively such as breast and cervical cancers. The following diseases commonly affecting women have been shown to have insulin resistance as a probable cause.

Cardiovascular diseases

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women in America and other developed countries accounting for about 21.8% of total female deaths. Cardiovascular diseases have been strongly linked to insulin resistance, a condition where the body becomes irresponsive to insulin. Some of the diseases in this category affecting women include hypertension and myocardial infarctions.  


Of all the cancers affecting women, the most notorious ones are breast and cervical cancer. Insulin resistance has been strongly implicated in these cancers because it disrupts female hormone balance, most notably oestrogen and progesterone. According to a 2017 study, insulin resistance also causes excess fat deposition in the breast hence increasing breast cancer risk by 50%.

Female Infertility

The leading cause female impotence is polycystic ovarian syndrome, a disorder characterized by accumulation of cysts in the ovaries. Again, insulin resistance is the key player and close to 99% of women with PCOS are insulin resistance. The standard therapy for this kind of infertility includes insulin sensitizing medication. Other causes for infertility are primary ovarian insufficiency and congenital disorders such as Turner and Rett syndromes.

Other Gynaecological Issues

Women have a very complex reproductive system than men and the processes it undertakes such as the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause all require an intricate balance of hormones which can be offset by a multitude of factors, most of which have also been linked to insulin resistance such as uterine fibroids, endometriosis, and inappropriate use of birth controls.

Communicable diseases

The most notable communicable diseases affecting women are sexually transmitted and urinary infections. Although such infections are often linked to poor hygiene or in the case of sexually transmitted diseases, having unprotected sex with infected persons, insulin seems to have a role in the pathogenesis of such illnesses mainly because it has been shown to lower immunity hence the body’s increased susceptibility to such infections.

Autoimmune Disorders

Although autoimmune diseases affect men and women alike, women are prone to suffer some diseases more commonly than men including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, more women than men suffer from autoimmune diseases because they have stronger inflammatory responses mediated by the immune system. Overactivation of the immune system is a common feature of insulin resistance

Neurological Disorders

The most notable conditions in this category affecting women are depression and premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which in simple terms is the depression that sets in prior to menstruation. Hormonal imbalances play a huge part in the pathogenesis of these illnesses and insulin resistance has been shown to interfere with female hormonal balance.

It is now evident that to take control over these illnesses that have greatly afflicted women, it is imperative to tackle the epidemic that is more often than not ignored; insulin resistance. This can be achieved by following a diet that does not spike insulin levels and excludes foods that spike insulin such as processed carbohydrates and also maintaining physical activity.

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