Nobody’s saying that having babies is the cure for cancer, but having babies later in life just might be a preventative measure for at least one type of cancer. Recent studies have shown that women who give birth while they are in their 40s have a reduced risk of endometrial cancer.
Endometrial cancer is a type of cancer which rises from the lining of the uterus. It is the most common form of gynecological cancer. Over 35,000 women are diagnosed with endometrial cancer annually, usually within the first couple of decades after menopause sets in. Endometrial cancer is usually treated with a hysterectomy, if it’s caught early enough. If the cancer has spread, a variety of treatments are used (chemotherapy, radiation, etc.).
It’s worth noting that women who have babies at any time in their lives are already at a reduced risk for ovarian cancer. Women who breastfeed their babies are also at a reduced risk for breast cancer and a number of other medical conditions.
The exact link between having a baby while in your 40s and the reduced chance of dealing with endometrial cancer is unknown. Researchers have suggested a couple of theories:
- Some believe that women who are able to conceive late in life are able to do so because their endometrium is health. If that’s the case, then having a baby later in life won’t actually decrease your chances of having endometrial cancer, per se. Later conception is still an indicator of decreased risk, but not the actual cause of it.
- Some believe that when a woman conceives later in life, the changes in their bodies causes precancerous cells to be eliminated. If this is the case, then conceiving a child later in life is actually the reason for a reduced risk of endometrial cancer.
Research is ongoing to pin down the exact tie, but for now scientists agree on one thing: Women who have a baby later in life are less likely to have endometrial cancer later.