Women who delay childbirth until their 30s and 40s may have a significantly decreased risk of endometrial cancer, says a new study that found that women who gave birth over age 40 had a 44% lower incidence of cancer than those who last gave birth at age 25 or younger. For women who had their last child when they were 35-39, the risk was 32% lower; it was 17 lower for those who had their last child between the ages of 30 and 34. The University of So Cal research was based on data from previous studies and involved 8,671 women with endometrial cancer and 16,562 healthy women. While researchers are uncertain as to why childbearing affects cancer risk, they surmise that it may be due to pregnancy hormone levels. Another theory? Giving birth may rid the uterus of cancer-causing cells.
Cervical Health Awareness Month
More than 80,000 women are diagnosed with gynecological cancer each year in the US. Symptoms may be vague and mistaken with less serious conditions, says Dr. Therese Bevers, who lists 10 symptoms every woman should heed. Abnormal vaginal bleeding, unexplained weight loss, vaginal discharge colored with blood, loss of appetite, pain in the pelvis or abdominal area, constant fatigue, persistent indigestion or nausea, belly bloat that lasts for more than two weeks and unexplained swelling in one leg, especially if it’s accompanied by pelvic pain, vaginal discharge or other cancer symptoms. "Remember, having one or more of these symptoms doesn't mean you have cancer," Bevers said. "But if they last two weeks or longer, see your doctor. After all, it's better to be safe than sorry."
Four Cups or More
Results from a new study by Harvard School of Public Health involving over 67,000 female nurses showed the drinking at least four cups of coffee lower their risk of endometrial cancer by 25 percent. This was large cohort that was followed for 26 years and only one percent (672 women) developed the cancer that affects lining of the uterus. While there is no definitive link between coffee and a lower cancer risk, other factors such as weight, childbirth or hormone use had no effect. Two factors the increase the risk of endometrial cancer are elevated circulating estrogen and insulin levels. It is also important to note that the reduced risk was not significant in women who used decaf, but the number of women in this group was so small that making a strong correlation difficult.
Lowers Spread and Invasiveness
Women with endometrial cancer may benefit from the diabetes drug metformin. Metformin is used in polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) to manage insulin resistance and elevated blood insulin levels and also regulates ovulation and the menstrual cycle. Some women with PCOS develop endometrial hyperplasia, a risk factor for cancer. Previous research demonstrates that metformin fights many cancers so serum was obtained from women with PCOS treated and not yet treated with metformin. Metformin-treated serum reduced the invasiveness of endometrial cancer cells in the lab and slowed the rate of spread by 25 percent compared to serum from women who had not started treatment. Whether or not metformin is effective in treating endometrial cancer will be determined by future clinical trials.
Saves Lives, Money
Taking Tamoxifen to prevent breast cancer in post-menopausal women under age 55 who are at increased risk, saves lives and lowers medical costs and the drug’s protective benefits last for years after treatment ends. However, the drug can have serious side effects that include early menopause, endometrial cancer, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Researchers found that for post-menopausal women, ages 55 years and below, with a 5-year risk of developing breast cancer of 1.66 % or greater, the drug’s benefits are maximized and side effects are minimized. Said researcher Dr. Peter Alperin of this group, "chemoprevention with tamoxifen prevents 29 breast cancer cases and 9 breast cancer deaths per 1,000 women treated, and it saves $47,580 per 1,000 women treated in the US.”
Good News for Statin Users
A long-term study, including 133,255 participants, has found that statin use is unlikely to increase or decrease overall cancer risk. Researchers, presenting this week at the Cancer Prevention Research Conference, studied the association between statin use (and other cholesterol-lowering drugs) and the occurrence of the 10 most common cancers, as well as overall cancer risk. Findings revealed that using cholesterol-lowering drugs for five years or more wasn't tied with overall cancer incidence. In addition, using the drugs wasn't associated with incidence of bladder, breast, colorectal, lung, pancreatic, prostate, or renal cell cancer. The drugs were associated with a lower risk of endometrial cancer, melanoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
150 Minutes a Week Reduces Risk
Exercising for 150 minutes a week or more might help you reduce your risk of getting endometrial cancer, claim researchers presenting this week at the Cancer Prevention Research Conference. The research, conducted at Yale School of Public Health, included 668 women with endometrial cancer and 665 age-matched control women without cancer. Researchers found that women who exercised 150 minutes a week or more had a 34 percent reduced risk of endometrial cancer when compared to inactive women. The link between exercise and endometrial cancer risk reduction was more pronounced among active women who had a body mass index (BMI) less than 25. Yet, even overweight, but still active women had a lower risk compared to the inactive women.