Ovarian cancer poses one of the greatest health threats to women, and a new study has suggested how pregnancy could help lower the risk of contracting the illness.

 

Researchers at the University of Southern California are claiming that women who delay pregnancy until their mid-thirties or later may reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer.

 

The researchers examined data from around 1,700 women living in Los Angeles who had ovarian cancer, comparing the information with that of about 2,380 women living in the same area who did not have the illness.

 

The study authors found that each five-year increase in a woman’s age at the birth of her first child corresponded to a 16% lower risk of ovarian cancer.

 

The statistics held true even after researchers branched out their study, taking into account other factors that could lead to the development of ovarian cancer, such as the use of oral contraception and the total number of babies the woman had.

 

 

While a previous study put this link down to changes in ovulation and, subsequently, hormonal balance, the study’s author Alice Lee said the new findings go beyond this: “The fact that the timing [of the pregnancy] matters kind of shows there’s a little bit more to the link.”

 

The exact reason behind the link has not been established by experts, but it is thought to be connected to the increase in the level of progesterone when a woman is pregnant, which can trigger some cells to self-destruct.

 

“If you have a later age at first birth, you essentially are able to clear more of the malignancy-transformed cells,” added Lee.

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