Nov. 1 (UPI) -- New research from the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine have found that women who have experienced infertility are at an increased risk of death.
The study will be presented this week at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine Scientific Congress & Expo in San Antonio.
Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at Penn analyzed data form 78,214 women enrolled in the National Cancer Institute's Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer screening trial between 1992 and 2001, who were then followed for 13 years. About 14.5 percent of women in the study reported infertility problems.
"While associations between infertility and overall health have been noted in the male population, until now, the relationship between a woman's fertility and her overall health has not been as robustly examined," Dr. Natalie Stentz, a fellow in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the Perelman School of Medicine, said in a news release.
"Though we can't yet explain the association between infertility and mortality, it is possible that the condition may be an early indicator of either endocrine or inflammatory disruption that over time, leads to long term health issues such as malignancy or diabetes."
In analysis of the data, researchers found that infertile women were 10 percent more likely to be deceased during the follow-up period than women who were not infertile.
Patients with infertility were 44 percent more likely to die of breast cancer, though infertility was not linked to higher risks of ovarian or endometrial cancers. Women with infertility issues were also 70 percent more likely to die from type 2 diabetes than women without infertility issues.
"The results raise significant questions over the long-term effects of infertility and whether it is infertility itself or an underlying condition that predisposes an individual to infertility that drives these increased risks," Stentz said.