Keep your ovaries; live longer

Doc and dog

In two studies released earlier in December, a connection was made between keeping one’s ovaries and a longer life. Every year untold numbers of women undergo hysterectomies and also have their ovaries removed. It’s been a standard procedure for almost forty years. Interestingly, so do dogs.

The study led by David J. Waters, a doctor of veterinary medicine, showed the female dogs that keep their ovaries longer also live longer. The study aimed to look at the factors, specifically a link between ovary retention and age, that lead to successful longevity in pets. The research team collected and analyzed lifetime medical histories, ages and causes of death for 119 canine “centenarian”, dogs who lived longer than 13 years, or 30% longer than the average in the breed.

“A female survival advantage in humans is well-documents - women outnumber men by 4:1 among those who reach 100,” said Waters. Like women, female dogs in our study had a distinct survival advantage over males. But taking away ovaries during the first four years of life completely erased the female survival advantage. We found that female Rottweilers that kept their ovaries for at least six years were four times more likely t reach exceptional longevity compared to females who had the shortest lifetime ovary exposure. . . Our quest to validate pet dogs as a model for the study of healthy human aging is at the core of this research.” Waters team intends to tackle the question of identifying ovary-sensitive processes that may influence the rate of aging and defining the critical window of ovary exposure that optimizes longevity.

Mirroring these findings is a study from Dr. William Parker and colleagues from the John Wayne Cancer Institute. They studied more than 29,000 women who underwent hysterectomy with ovary removal. The findings showed that the benefit of ovary removal was negated by increased mortality from other causes. Longevity is cut short in women who lose their ovaries before the age of 50 compared with those who kept their ovaries for at least that many years.

“For the last 35 years, most doctors have been routinely advising women undergoing hysterectomy to have their ovaries removed to prevent ovarian cancer,” Parker said. “We believe that such an automatic recommendation is no longer warranted.” Waters summed up, “In this era of personalized medicine, it seems only fitting that we should be directing the conversation about elective ovary removal in women and dogs toward a more forward-looking, individualized script.”

Source: Purdue University


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