• Science Saturday: Removal of both ovaries in younger women associated with increased risk of Parkinson’s

a close-up of a smiling middle-aged woman looking off into the distance

Surgical removal of both ovaries is associated with an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease and parkinsonism in women younger than 43, Mayo Clinic researchers report in JAMA Network Open

Using health record data from the Rochester Epidemiology Project, the study included 2,750 women who had undergone surgery to remove both ovaries, a procedure called bilateral oophorectomy, and 2,749 who had not. The reasons for the surgery were either a benign (noncancerous) condition — such as endometriosis, cyst, or other reason — or for the prevention of cancer. Researchers found that for every 48 women younger than 43 at the time of surgery, one additional woman developed Parkinson’s compared to women of the same age who did not have their ovaries removed.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder that affects the nervous system and parts of the body controlled by nerves. Tremors are common, but the disorder also may cause stiffness or slowing of movement. It often is accompanied by dementia, sleep disorders, and bowel and bladder problems. Parkinsonism is a general term for slowness of movement along with stiffness, tremor or loss of balance.

Parkinson’s disease manifests almost twice as commonly in men than women in the general population, thus suggesting that sex- or gender-related factors play a role. For women, the ovaries are the main source of the hormone estrogen. Surgical removal of a woman’s ovaries may be recommended because of cancer, gene mutations, and other conditions. When a woman’s ovaries are surgically removed before she goes through menopause, that source of estrogen and other hormones is lost, so removal causes an abrupt endocrine dysfunction.

Read the rest of the article on the Discovery's Edge blog.


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