Want one more reason to space out your pregnancies? Findings from a recent study published online in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggest that you reduce your risk of developing endometrial cancer by 13 percent for every five-year delay in last births after the age of 30. Endometrial (also called uterine) cancer is, according to the World Cancer Research Fund, the sixth most common cancer in women worldwide.

According to MedicalNewsToday.com, the researchers found that, when compared to women who last gave birth at the age of 25, women whose last births were between the ages of 30 and 34 were 17 percent less likely to develop endometrial cancer. Women who last gave birth between the ages of 35 and 39 reduced their risk by 32 percent, and those whose last births were at 40 or older decreased their risk by 44 percent.

The study was funded by the US National Cancer Institute and involved the analysis of data pooled from 17 other studies in the Epidemiology of Endometrial Cancer Consortium, with a total of over 8,000 cases of endometrial cancer and over 16,000 control subjects.

Veronica Setiawan, PhD, lead investigator of the study and assistant professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, is quoted as saying, "We found that the lower risk of endometrial cancer continued for older mothers across different age-at-diagnosis groups, including under 50, 50-59, 60-69, and over 70—which shows that the protection persists for many years. Protection also did not vary by the two types of the disease: the more common Type 1, which we think is related to estrogen exposure; and the more rare, but more aggressive and deadly, Type 2, which have been thought to develop independent of hormones."

She mentioned that other investigators have suggested why the age at last birth impacts women’s risk of endometrial cancer, but determining which hypothesis is correct will require additional research. Still, Dr. Setiawan notes, "This study shows an important protective factor for endometrial cancer, and when the exact mechanism by which it protects women from getting the disease is known, it can help our understanding of how endometrial cancer develops and thus how to prevent it."

(Photo by Valeer Vandenbosch via sxc.hu)

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