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11-12-2011 | Bone health | Article

Higher risk for arthritis and osteoporosis after oophorectomy


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MedWire News: Surgical removal of the ovaries is linked with a increased risk for arthritis and osteoporosis, US research shows.

Women who underwent bilateral oophorectomy, especially women who had their ovaries removed before age 45 years, were at a higher risk for impaired bone health, report investigators.

"Our study suggests that some women with oophorectomy, particularly at a young age, can experience clinically relevant decreases in bone mineral density (BMD)," said Anne Marie McCarthy (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland) in a press release.

"Clinicians need to be aware of this so they can intervene early if required."

Women with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation are encouraged to remove their ovaries by age 40 years to reduce their risk for cancer. As the researchers explain, however, bone loss is known to accelerate after oophorectomy in younger women.

In their analysis, presented this week at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium held in Texas, USA, they investigated associations between oophorectomy with arthritis in 4039 women and BMD in 3660 women. In women less than 45 years old, 47.7% reported having arthritis.

Women who had their ovaries removed were significantly more likely to have arthritis when compared with women with intact ovaries (45.4 vs 32.1%).

Age-standardized mean femoral neck BMD was also significantly lower in women aged less than 45 years old who underwent oophorectomy compared with women with intact ovaries (0.711 vs 0.743 g/m2).

In multivariate analysis, women aged less than 45 years old who underwent oophorectomy had a 78% increased risk for arthritis (odds ratio [OR]=1.78) compared with those with intact ovaries.

An identical risk for osteoporosis was also observed in the younger women who underwent oophorectomy (OR=1.78).

These risks for arthritis and osteoporosis were increased further when women undergoing hormone replacement therapy (HRT) were excluded from the analysis (OR=1.99 and 2.92, respectively).

"[The study] highlights the need for more research in this area to identify those women at risk and to determine appropriate screening and preventive strategies for these young women," McCarthy stated in the release.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

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