WASHINGTON – Most women getting hysterectomies should keep their ovaries because the common extra step of removing them seems to do no good and might increase the risk of dying from heart disease, researchers report.
The provocative study, being published today in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, does not settle the issue. It does not track actual patients but uses other data to create a model of the surgery’s effects.
But the study promises to raise questions from women and their doctors about a procedure long accepted despite little evidence to back it.
Some 615,000 hysterectomies – the surgical removal of all or part of the uterus – are performed every year. More than half of those women also have their ovaries removed as a protective measure against developing ovarian cancer.
Even after menopause, the ovaries continue to produce a small amount of hormones, including testosterone, which the body later converts into estrogen.
Dr. William H. Parker, of the University of California at Los Angeles, wondered if the abrupt loss of those hormones through ovary removal would outweigh most women’s low risk of ovarian cancer.
Ovary removal did not show a clear benefit for women of any age, he said.
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