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Early Ovary Removal May Raise Arthritis, Osteoporosis Risk

THURSDAY, Dec. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Women under the age of 45 who have their ovaries removed are more likely to be diagnosed with arthritis and have lower bone mineral density, a predictor of osteoporosis, a new study finds.

Researchers analyzed data on more nearly 7,700 women from NHANES III, a nationally representative survey conducted between 1988 and 1994.

About 45 percent of women who had their ovaries removed were diagnosed with arthritis, compared to 32 percent of women who did not have their ovaries removed.

Women who had both ovaries removed before 45 and who never used hormone replacement therapy had on average lower bone mineral density than women with intact ovaries. Women without ovaries were also twice as likely to have very low bone mineral density.

The study's authors concluded that women who have their ovaries removed for cancer prevention should be closely monitored for osteoporosis over the long term.

"Our study suggests that some women with oophorectomy [ovary removal], particularly at a young age, can experience clinically relevant decreases in bone mineral density. Clinicians need to be aware of this so they can intervene early if required," Anne Marie McCarthy, a doctoral candidate in epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health McCarthy, said in a news release.

Researchers said their findings could have an impact on carriers of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations since these women are often encouraged to have their ovaries removed to reduce their risk of cancer and improve their chances of long-term survival.

They also noted that their study shows an association between ovary removal and arthritis/low bone density, but does not prove causation.

The research was to be presented Thursday at the 2011 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases provides more information on breast cancer and bone health.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

SOURCE: San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, news release, Dec. 8, 2011

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