March 05, 2007

Reader Says

"Dear Ms. Tith:
I read the article in the Sunday Chronicle that made reference to your site, which prompts this email.

My wife and I decided sometime in the mid 1970's not to have children. We enjoyed the usual benefits of two incomes and no kids. And were quite happy with one another.

About three years ago my wife was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Following two surgeries and many rounds of chemo, she died about four months ago.
I mention this because there is at least one study that suggests that women who have had children have a lower incidence of gynecological cancers.
I am afraid I will always wonder if the choice we made not to have children may have contributed to my wife's death.

There are, in my opinion, many valid reasons not to have children. However, I do believe it would be advisable for women to have a thorough discussion with a knowledgeable gynecologist before making an irrevocable commitment to that choice. Especially if the woman is a member of a genetic group with high incidences of cancer (e.g., Ashkenazi Jews).

It might be useful to your readership to initiate a discussion of medical issues related to non-child-bearing on your website.

Best wishes,
Mr. Nicholas"

This email was the first one in my box yesterday. Nik has given me the topic for my next byline in Unscripted. This will take some research. If there was a study, was it duplicated? Was it definitive? What were the recommended outcomes? In the meantime...

...Purple WomenTM do you have any light to shed on the subject?

Technorati Tag:


Anonymous said...

Bear in mind that a lot of the studies referred to by your reader are usually conducted/funded by either ACOG(American College of Gynocologists) or major pharmaceutical firms, both of which have a vested interest in women's reproductive choices.

Childfree women, over the course of their reproductive years, have more estrogen exposure due to uninterrupted menses. However, this alone doesn't increse the rish of gynecological cancers. Heredity, diet, smoking, weight management, and lifestyle in general can all conspire to either predispose one to cancer, or to help them avoid it.

No study is bomb-proof. Sometimes people just get dealt a lousy deck of cards and that's it. In other cases, genes can play a part (The BRAC-I gene comes to mind in regard to breast and ovarian cancers).

Besides, how many obits have we all ready that have stated "......and was a loving mother to (insert number here)of children."

-Alpha Girl

Ashley said...

Like alpha girl said, many factors also lead to an increased cancer risk. I did a quick goggle search that listed childess women along three other types more likely to get cancer.

"Childless women run the risk of earlier death and poorer health in later life. A new study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) finds that not only childless women but also mothers of five or more children, teenage mothers and mothers who have children with less than an 18 month gap between births all have higher risks of death and poor health later in life."

This may be a good article topic to show that there are many factors that increase cancer risk. A person can have kids and still be in just as much (if not more) danger of getting some type of cancer.


Anonymous said...

Sorry for the spelling fatigue!

-alpah Girl

Anonymous said...

AlphaGirl, Ashley, thanks for sharing what you know. Yes, we definitely need to clear the air.

These days studies get turned into sound bites that everyone thinks are truth. Perception and truth are two different things. It's the kind of topic that everyone has heard of, but hardly anyone has the facts. I intend to go after them.

Anonymous said...

Typos are always forgiven, especially in the comments. Thanks for these gifts!

JeSais said...

how do those numbers compare to the number of women who die in childbirth??

living is not risk free

Tiara Lynn said...

This has been on my mind, especially since my husband's mother died of ovarian cancer years before I met him; she had only one child and no family history of cancer -- her own mother is the most physically and socially active 82-year-old I've ever met! For every medical study that says one thing, there's a counterpoint someplace. I'll just continue my regular checkups and know that I'm living the best life I can live!

It's unfortunate that the writer experienced such a loss, and I hope he doesn't blame himself.

Clo said...

I'm French and I live in France. Last year I had a medical examination and I remember the doctor was counting my breast cancer risk "score" and her diagnostic was : "Nulliparité" ? (this French word for childless is awful) One point more, first mammo at 40. I concede, this "bonus" made me nervous because it was a total surprise. My mother, 5 children, had her first at 55. But now I know...

Beth S. said...

Doesn't taking the pill help to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer, since we don't ovulate while on the pill? Your correspondent didn't mention that part.

M.P. said...

Hi, I have been reading a lot on the Purple Women & Friends the last few days. I came across this post and am putting my past experience here. When I was young I had a baby at the age 15 and one at the age of 17. I gave them both for adoption. Then at the age of 25 I had cervical cancer and had the best of me removed. Just when hubby and I were talking of having children. (God works in weird ways) Anyway, my mothers side of the family has the cancer genes. My mother died from cancer 2 years ago and one of my uncles died of cancer 20 years ago, one of my aunts had cervical cancer. So what it is for me? Being to young when I had my children that gave me cancer or the cancer genes on my mothers side of the family?

Anonymous said...

MP - Whoa. That's heavy. Is it more what you do with your body or what genes you inherit?

This definitely deserves some research and a follow on article. I am having lunch with the correspondent on Monday.

I thank you and everyone who left comments for sharing their collective wisdom.