THURSDAY, Sept. 20, 2018 -- Women who have their ovaries removed before menopause may find themselves at higher risk for chronic kidney disease, a new study suggests.
Researchers believe the reason behind it is the drop in estrogen levels that follows the procedure.
"This is the first study that has shown an important link between estrogen deprivation in younger women and kidney damage," said study senior author Dr. Walter Rocca, a neurologist and epidemiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Though the study did not prove cause and effect, women considering having their ovaries removed should be aware of this potentially serious risk, particularly if they aren't at high risk for ovarian and breast cancer, the researchers added.
Chronic kidney disease occurs when the kidneys are damaged and can't filter the blood as well as they should. If the kidneys fail, patients must undergo dialysis and a kidney transplant. Chronic kidney disease is the ninth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Previous studies have shown that the female hormone estrogen has a protective effect on the kidneys. In this latest study, researchers investigated how the removal of both ovaries affected the kidney function of women who had not yet experienced menopause.
For the study, the researchers analyzed data on more than 1,600 premenopausal women in Minnesota who had their ovaries removed before the age of 50. These women were compared to a second group of women who were about the same age but did not have their ovaries removed.
After following the women for a median of 14 years, the researchers found the women who had ovary removal had a 6.6 percent greater risk for chronic kidney disease than those who didn't. For women younger than 46 at the time of ovary removal, there was a 7.5 percent greater risk for kidney damage later.
The findings were published Sept. 19 in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
"For women who do not have an increased genetic risk for breast and ovarian cancer, we recommend against the removal of the ovaries as a preventive option due to the increased risk of diseases, including chronic kidney disease," Rocca said in a Mayo news release.
The Emory University School of Medicine provides more information on ovary removal.
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