Some health risks posed to women through in­fer­til­ity

The Mercury - - NEWS -

IN­FER­TIL­ITY in­creases a woman’s chance of dy­ing early by 10%, a study has found.

Fer­til­ity prob­lems raised the risk of death from breast can­cer by 43%, and in­creased the chance of dy­ing from di­a­betes. But hav­ing chil­dren pro­tects women from dy­ing pre­ma­turely, sug­gest­ing giv­ing birth has a re­ju­ve­nat­ing ef­fect on the body.

The im­pact of hav­ing chil­dren on a woman’s life­span has long been de­bated.

Some be­lieve preg­nancy and giv­ing birth take a toll on the body, while oth­ers say in­fer­til­ity may point to un­der­ly­ing health prob­lems.

Now a study of nearly 80 000 women lends sup­port to the idea that in­fer­til­ity could point to hor­monal prob­lems that in­crease the chance of dy­ing.

Re­search to be pre­sented at the congress of the Amer­i­can So­ci­ety for Re­pro­duc­tive Medicine (ASRM) in San An­to­nio, Texas showed in­fer­tile women had a higher risk of death from hor­monere­lated dis­or­ders, such as breast can­cer and di­a­betes.

The study looked at health records of women aged 55 to 74, be­tween 1992 and 2001.

Dur­ing the study, 11 006 women (14.5%) re­ported in­fer­til­ity, classed as be­ing un­able to con­ceive over a year or more.

In­fer­tile women were 10% more likely to have died by the study’s end. Ac­cord­ing to the find­ings, in­fer­til­ity was not linked to higher rates of ovar­ian can­cer or can­cers of the womb.

And even though the in­ci­dence of di­a­betes was sim­i­lar in fer­tile women, in­fer­tile women ex­pe­ri­enced a 70% higher risk of dy­ing of com­pli­ca­tions from di­a­betes and a 43% higher risk of dy­ing from breast can­cer.

Lead au­thor Dr Natalie Stentz, of Penn­syl­va­nia Univer­sity, said: “The study high­lights the fact that a his­tory of in­fer­til­ity is in­deed re­lated to women’s life­long health and opens po­ten­tial op­por­tu­ni­ties, for screen­ing or pre­ven­tive man­age­ment, for in­fer­tile women.

“One of the things we do know is that hav­ing a baby at some point in a woman’s life is pro­tec­tive for health.

“When you look at stud­ies of women who have never borne chil­dren, they are at an in­creased risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease and sev­eral ma­lig­nan­cies.

“There is cer­tainly a re­ju­ve­na­tion hy­poth­e­sis that, just by be­com­ing preg­nant, a woman may be at lower risk of ma­lig­nan­cies and long-term dis­ease,” Stentz said.

One the­ory of why preg­nancy pro­tects a mother’s health is “para­bio­sis”, or that shar­ing blood with a grow­ing foe­tus re­ju­ve­nates the mother.

Richard J Paul­son, pres­i­dent of the ASRM, said the study was “in­trigu­ing and po­ten­tially very im­por­tant”. – Daily Mail

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