Endometriosis is a painful, often debilitating, condition in which tissue similar to that found lining the womb is found elsewhere in the body, such as the bowel or ovaries. When it breaks down and bleeds, as it would in the womb, it can cause inflammation and pain. It is believed that up to 10% of women live with the condition, with some left infertile as a result.
Now researchers have studied decades of data to reveal the condition is more common among women who were tall and lean when young, a finding that may help identify those at greater risk.
“Body size during these ages is an indicator for later risk,” said Dr Jennifer Baker, a co-author of the research from the University of Copenhagen and Frederiksberg hospital in Denmark. “It really tells us that the roots of this disease lie earlier in life than people have previously thought,” she said.
Writing in the Annals of Human Biology the researchers reported that they analysed data from more than 170,000 women born in Denmark between 1930 and 1996. Danish school-based health programmes meant all children had their height and weight measured between the ages of seven and 13 years.
The team also looked at hospital data, collected since 1977, to track until mid-2017 records of endometriosis or adenomyosis – a condition in which tissues akin to the lining of the womb are found in its muscular walls – in those aged 15 or older.
Overall 2,149 women were diagnosed with endometriosis, and 1,410 with adenomyosis.
A 10% rate, eh? And yet we’ve got this database of women who have been tested. And find 2,100, or about a 1% rate. One and a bit at least.
We also know what the cure is – hysterectomy and ovectomy (ovariectomy?) and early menopause. Fairly radical cure of course but it is there. Sure, loss of fertility is a high price to pay. As is the cure for prostate cancer just to point out that this isn’t a sexist issue.