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Early Menstruation Lowers Odds of Surviving Ovarian Cancer
Date:7/9/2009

Patients who had first period before age 12 are at increased risk of death, study shows

THURSDAY, July 9 (HealthDay News) -- Among women with ovarian cancer, those who had their first menstrual period before the age of 12 and who had the most menstrual cycles over a lifetime are more likely to die of the cancer than those who had fewer ovulatory cycles, a new study shows.

U.S. researchers analyzed data on 410 women, aged 20 to 54, who had ovarian cancer and were enrolled in the Cancer and Steroid Hormone (CASH) study between 1980 and 1982.

Using data that included in-depth patient interviews, reproductive history, contraceptive use and personal and family medical history, the researchers divided the women into groups based on their total number of ovulatory cycles.

There were 212 deaths among the participants during a median follow-up of 9.2 years, the study authors noted.

Women in the group who had the highest number of lifetime ovulatory cycles had a 67 percent greater chance of dying during the study follow-up, which ranged up to about 17 years.

The findings were independent of a woman's age at the time of the study, which would of course have a significant impact on the number of menstrual cycles a woman had had, said study author Cheryl Robbins, an epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ovarian cancer patients whose age at menarche, or first menstrual cycle, was younger than 12 were 51 percent more likely to die from the cancer than those whose age at menarche was 14 or older, according to the study, published in the July issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Ovarian cancer is the fifth-leading cause of cancer deaths among women. The high mortality is due, in part, because the disease is typically discovered after it has spread. Only about one-fifth of ovarian cancers are detected when the cancer is still local
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