Women who inherit a genetic mutation linked to breast and ovarian cancer could reduce their cancer risk significantly by having their ovaries removed by age 35, according to a new study.
Researchers studied over 5,000 women with the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes—which are known to increase the risk for certain cancers—from seven countries between 1995 and 2011, NBC News reports. About 3,390 women had their ovaries removed either before or during the study, and women with some BRCA1 mutations reduced their risk of cancer by 80%, according to the study published Monday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. About 2,270 women in the study did not have their ovaries removed.
The study also shows that women who wait until after 35 to have the surgery increase their risk of developing ovarian cancer fivefold and were four-times more likely to die prematurely.
“To me, waiting to have an oophorectomy until after 35 is too much of a chance to take,” Dr. Steven Narod of the University of Toronto in Canada, who led the study, told NBC. “These data are so striking that we believe prophylactic oophorectomy by age 35 should become a universal standard for women with BRCA1 mutations.”