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Ovary removal linked with Early Death in Younger Women

According to a new study at the Mayo Clinic, there is a increase in death rates among women under 45 years undergoing bilateral ovariectomy ; surgical removal of both// ovaries, and not receiving proper hormone replacement therapy.

This study will be published in the October 1 issue of The Lancet Oncology. According to the study, there was a 1.7 times increase in death rates due to all causes in this age-category women. It was specifically high for estrogen-related cancers and diseases of the brain and cardiovascular system.

These discoveries were made unexpectedly by Walter Rocca, MD, Mayo Clinic neurologist, epidemiologist and lead study investigator, while investigating associations between ovary removal and brain diseases like Parkinson's and dementia.

"These findings reopen the debate about preventive removal of the ovaries for younger women," says Bobbie Gostout, MD, Mayo Clinic gynecologic surgeon who is not a study author but consulted with Dr. Rocca. "We don't see a dramatic increase in risk for early death from any one condition, but Dr. Rocca's study did show some increase in risk of death from breast and uterine cancers, and neurologic and vascular conditions. Collectively, this information tells us that a procedure that previously looked advantageous in protecting women's health may actually have disadvantages. We need to be very thoughtful about ovariectomy, as it may put younger women at risk for an earlier death."

Dr. Rocca says, "If a woman under 45 has ovarian cancer or a benign disease in the ovaries that requires removal, however, compelling reason remains to remove the ovaries. Removal may also be considered in older women and in women with a very high risk of ovarian cancer. "

Dr. Gostout points out that these findings will change her surgical practice for women under 45.

"For me this changes the nature of the discussion," she says. "Women in whom we've discovered ovarian can
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