Women with a history of infertility have a 10% increased risk of death compared to those without infertility problems, reports a new American study. The difficulty in conceiving is thought to expose them to significant risks of dying of breast cancer or type 2 diabetes.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have found a link, which cannot yet be explained, between female infertility and mortality, after having followed 78,214 women of child-bearing age for thirteen years.
The results presented at the annual American Society of Reproductive Medicine Scientific Congress and Expo in San Antonio, Texas, showed that women who were unable to conceive after a year, i.e. 14.5% of the study participants, had a 10% greater risk of mortality compared to women who did not have any problem getting pregnant.
This link between infertility and mortality is even more significant in the case of cancer-related mortality which was shown to be 20% more likely in women with a history of infertility.
The study indicated that breast cancer is the disease most closely linked to infertility problems, along with diabetes. Patients with infertility were 44% more likely to die of breast cancer, while infertility was not linked to an increased risk of death from ovarian or endometrial cancers.
The study also demonstrated that women with infertility problems were 70% more likely to die from type 2 diabetes.
The research team believes that infertility could be an early indicator of endocrine or inflammatory disruption which, in the long term, could lead to diseases such as cancer and diabetes.