Originally published September 26 2009
Removing Ovaries Ups Women’s Lung Cancer Risk
by S. L. Baker, features writer
(NaturalNews) Ovaries, the almond-shaped organs that sit on each side of the uterus in a woman's pelvis, contain eggs and produce hormones that control the menstrual cycle. Mounting research shows they must do more than that, too, because after the surgical removal of ovaries, women are at heightened risk for serious diseases. But cutting out a woman's most important so-called female organs must only be done for life-saving, urgent medical emergencies, right? Wrong. A study in the Menopause earlier this year noted that the ovaries of 300,000 American women are removed each year for no compelling reason at all -- for example, for benign cysts that would most likely go away if left alone. Now researchers have found that removal of the ovaries, a procedure called a bilateral oophorectomy has long term consequences never considered before. It ups the risk of lung cancer.
The startling link was made by epidemiologists from the Universite de Montreal, the Research Centre of the Centre Hospitalier de l'Universite de Montreal and the Institut Armand-Frappier (INRS) in Canada. "We found that women who experienced non-natural menopause are at almost twice the risk of developing lung cancer compared to women who experienced natural menopause," research team member Dr. Anita Koushik said in a statement to the media. "This increased risk of lung cancer was particularly observed among women who had non-natural menopause by having had both their ovaries surgically removed."
The scientists investigated 422 women with lung cancer and 577 control subjects at 18 hospitals across Montreal, Quebec, Canada. They looked at socio-demographic characteristics, where the women had lived, their occupational exposures, medical histories, whether they smoked or not and their menstruation and pregnancy histories.
"A major strength of this study was the detailed smoking information which we obtained from all study participants; this is important because of the role of smoking in lung cancer and because smokers generally have lower estrogen levels than non-smokers," said Dr. Koushik. "Although smoking is the dominant cause of lung cancer, we know other factors can play an important role in enhancing the impact of tobacco carcinogens; this research suggests that in women hormonal factors may play such a role."
Among the research subjects who went through natural menopause, the median age for experiencing the "change of life" was 50 years old. But women were only about 43 when they went through menopause brought on from non-natural means by having their ovaries removed. And these younger woman were shown to be far more likely to develop lung cancer. The specific reason why oophorectomy could trigger lung tumors remains unclear. Could it be sudden lack of natural hormones in the body or the fact so many women are pushed to go on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after removal of their ovaries?
"It's possible that vulnerability to lung cancer is caused by early and sudden decrease in estrogen levels or potentially long-term use of hormone replacement therapy and further research is needed to explore these hypotheses," scientist Dr. Jack Siemiatycki said in the press statement.
The Canadian study follows the earlier research published in Menopause which had equally bad news about the consequences of ovary removal. That research showed the risk of dying from cardiovascular events soared for women who had undergone an oophorectomy.
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