Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Study Suggests Ovary Removal May Increase Heart Disease Risk

A study in the current issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology suggests that oophorectomy (ovary removal) during hysterectomies for benign (non-cancerous) conditions may increase women's risk of heart disease. The study looked at published data to model women's survival rates over time if their ovaries were removed - this is often done in order to prevent the possibility of ovarian cancer. The study was NOT a clinical trial following actual women over time; I would expect a study of that type to be done before the authors' conclusions could be considered completely reliable. The authors do note this limitation, but are skeptical that such a large, long-term study will be done.

The most notable suggestion of the study was that heart disease risk is lowered the longer women delay having their ovaries removed (the authors also looked at other outcomes). If the study holds up, it will be important because heart disease currently kills more women than any cancers according to CDC data, and the National Cancer Institute indicates that ovarian cancer is the 5th leading cause of cancer death in women.

Bottom line: If ovary removal is not necessary during your hysterectomy, talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of leaving them in.

Summary from MedlinePlus
Also from MedlinePlus, information on ovarian cancer, heart disease, and hysterectomy
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