From the journals: Ovary removal linked to risk for dementia, parkinsonism

From the journals

Ovary removal linked to risk for dementia, parkinsonism

Every year, more than 600,000 women have hysterectomies, mostly for noncancerous conditions such as fibroids, endometriosis, and uterine prolapse. About half have their ovaries removed at the same time — a procedure called oophorectomy — mainly to reduce their chances of getting ovarian cancer. Women at high risk for breast cancer may also undergo oophorectomy because it eliminates ovarian production of estrogen, the hormone that fuels the growth of most breast cancers.

In recent years, several studies have suggested that ovary removal is not a good idea, at least for women at average risk for both ovarian and breast cancer. For example, in one study, oophorectomy before age 65 was linked with an increased risk of heart disease, hip fractures, and premature death. Estrogen therapy (often recommended for women whose ovaries are removed before menopause) lowered these risks somewhat, but not as much as having hysterectomy alone. Two studies suggest that women who undergo oophorectomy before menopause are also at greater risk for dementia and movement disorders like Parkinson's disease. Findings were published in the Aug. 29, 2007, online issue of Neurology.

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