Reproductive factors may raise risk of lung cancer in women: Study

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Beijing, September 12 (IANS) Early menopause, shortened reproductive span, and early age at first birth are associated with elevated risks of lung cancer in women, finds a study.

The findings, presented at the ongoing International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer 2023 World Conference on Lung Cancer in Singapore revealed that these reproductive factors displayed a substantially stronger association with elevated lung cancer risk, particularly non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), in populations with high genetic susceptibility and detrimental behaviours.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for men and women worldwide. NSCLC is the most prevalent type of lung cancer, affecting about 85 per cent of patients.

"These findings are of paramount importance in our understanding of the potential risk factors for lung cancer among women," said lead researcher Dr. Y. Zhang from Xiangya Hospital, Central South University in China.

"Early menarche, early menopause, and a shortened reproductive life span are associated with higher risks of incident lung cancer, especially NSCLC, in subpopulations with specific genetic risk and lifestyle choices,"Zhang added.

For the study, the researchers conducted a prospective cohort study involving 273,190 participants from the UK Biobank to delve into the links between individual reproductive factors and the risk of developing lung cancer.

The study sought to identify potential risk factors and further analyse their impact on specific subgroups, including age, smoking status, body mass index (BMI), genetic risk, and histological subtypes.

Over a median follow-up period of 12.0 years, the cohort study recorded 1,182 lung cancer cases in women.

The study showed that the reproductive factors such as early menarche (age before 11 years), early menopause (age before 46 years or age of 47-49 years), a shorter reproductive span (age before 32 years or age of 33-35 years), and early age at first birth (before 20 years or age of 21-25 years) increased lung cancer risk in woman.

This pioneering research emphasises the importance of screening multiple reproductive factors in identifying potential lung cancer risk among female populations. By understanding these associations, healthcare professionals can develop targeted preventive strategies and interventions to combat lung cancer effectively, Dr Zhang said.