Rejoice, older mothers! New research says that becoming a mother at later age can actually reduce your risk of endometrial cancer. Women who gave birth after age 40 or older were 44% less likely to develop endometrial cancer than women whose last birth occurred at age 25 or lower. Since women are having babies later and later in life, this is good news.
A study published online this week from the American Journal of Epidemiology reviewed 8,671 women with endometrial cancer and 16,562 women without, finding that overall risk for endometrial cancer decreased the older a mother was at her last birth. Risk went down 32% for women who gave birth between ages 35 and 39, and down 17% for women who gave birth between the ages of 30 and 34. The effect was seen even as the women got older, according to one of the researchers, Wendy Setiawan.
But researchers aren’t exactly sure what makes the risk for cancer lower for women who gave birth at a later age. Wendy Setiawan commented that it may be that hormone levels during pregnancy are more helpful once women age. Giving birth may get rid of cancer-causing cells in the uterus, or it may be that women who can become pregnant later have healthier uteruses overall.
Other studies have linked later childbearing to increased risks for both breast cancer and ovarian cancer, as well as a number of risks to the fetus, like increased chances of birth defects and other complications like miscarriages and low birth weight.
Still, if you’re an older mother or hoping to become an older mother, you can worry a bit less about your risk of developing endometrial cancer.