Reproductive Factors, Including Menopause, Linked to Lung Cancer Risk

The research is in, and it doesn’t benefit women in this case. Non-smoking women are at higher risk for lung cancer than men who are non-smokers. Based on a large research study with more than 273,000 women, menopause and the age of having your firstborn child are factors that can affect a woman’s risk of lung cancer.

This research study emphasized the importance of screening for specific reproductive factors in women as a means of preventing lung cancer.

Sex Differences and Lung Cancer 

Smoking obviously increases the chances of lung cancer for women, but the findings are alarming that women are at higher risks regardless of if they are smokers.

Numerous studies have focused on the link between sex-specific reproductive factors and the incidence of lung cancer in women. Findings show that the risk of lung cancer seems to decrease with the age the woman gives birth to their first child.

These studies also look at other factors such as age at the onset of menstruation, hormonal replacement therapy, and oral contraceptives. These factors impact the length of time and amount that women are exposed to specific hormones like estrogen and progesterone.

It is worth noting that many of these studies have shortcomings. Sample sizes may have been small and had variable study designs, so research is not conclusive.

Importance of Reproductive Factors on Lung Cancer

Data from the UK Biobank, a large-scale biomedical database and research resource, has been used for a variety of lifestyle and health studies.

One large research study used information from this database to analyze health and genetic data obtained from 273,190 women between 2006 and 2010.

Self-reported data on reproductive factors such as age of first menstrual period, onset age of menopause, age at first live birth, and removal of ovaries or uterus were all included in this research.

Researchers found that participants who were older and smoking at the end of the study period were more likely to have lung cancer. Women who had an earlier onset of their first period or menopause were also found to have an increased risk of lung cancer.

Results also indicated that surgical removal of ovaries and the use of hormonal replacement therapy were also linked to higher risks of developing lung cancer.

Lastly, women who had their first live birth before 26 years of age also showed increased risk when compared with participants who had their firstborn between the ages of 26 and 30.

Strengths and Limitations of These Studies

The size and length of time this study was run are both strengths of this research project and its findings. In addition, this study adjusted its analysis for variables such as smoking and environmental exposures, making its results more reliable.

On the flip side, this study used self-reported data on reproductive factors, making bias a possibility. Findings may not apply to the general population because the sample included women of mostly European descent.