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Hysterectomy 'lowers ovarian cancer risk'

The risk of developing ovarian cancer is reduced for women who have had a hysterectomy which includes the removal of their ovaries, a study has claimed.

Researchers also found that there were no higher risks of women who have had the procedure developing other forms of cancer, heart disease or hip fractures.

The study, which was conducted by a team at the University of California, San Francisco, involved monitoring over 25,000 women who were postmenopausal and aged between 50 and 70.

All of the participants had undergone a hysterectomy and none of them had a history of ovarian cancer in the family. Over half (56%) had their ovaries removed and 79% had been given some type of hormone replacement therapy.

The researchers followed up the women after seven to eight years to determine if ovarian cancer, heart disease or hip fractures had developed.

They discovered that for women who just had a hysterectomy, one in every 300 had developed ovarian cancer, while for those who had their ovaries removed as well, the figure was one in 5,000.

For heart disease and hip fracture, the results were similar for both groups of women - an annual rate of eight in 1,000.

But lead researcher Dr Vanessa Jacoby stated: “What our study emphasises is that it’s very unclear because there’s this equivocal mix of data. There’s really no right answer about what to do about removing or retaining your ovaries during a hysterectomy. Definitely a lot more work needs to be done.”

The findings have been published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

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