As periods are considered a vital sign, studying menstrual cycles can help in understanding their relation to health conditions like infertility, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and menopause.
Apple launched its first Women’s Health Study in partnership with Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health on menstruation cycles and commonly experienced symptoms which found that commonly reported symptoms were abdominal cramps, bloating, and tiredness across races and ages during periods.
Now, the preliminary findings of the new Apple Women’s Health study reveal that women with irregular periods are at risk of cancer.
New Apple Women’s Health Study helps relation between abnormal periods and cancer
Harvard Chan School researchers analyzed data from 50,000 participants to understand the relationship between abnormal periods, PCOS, endometrial hyperplasia, and cancer. The study found:
12 percent of participants reported a PCOS diagnosis. Participants with PCOS had more than four times the risk of endometrial hyperplasia (precancer of the uterus) and more than 2.5 times the risk of uterine cancer.
5.7 percent of participants reported their cycles taking five or more years to reach cycle regularity after their first period. Participants in that group had more than twice the risk of endometrial hyperplasia and more than 3.5 times the risk of uterine cancer, compared to those who reported their cycles took less than one year to reach regularity.
The findings are expected to help people understand the risk factors for diseases like PCOS, endometrial hyperplasia, and uterine cancer. They will also encourage them to discuss cycle irregularity earlier with the healthcare providers and reduce the risk.
Dr. Shruthi Mahalingaiah, MS, Harvard Chan School’s assistant professor of Environmental Reproductive and Women’s Health and co-principal investigator of the Apple Women’s Health Study said:
“More awareness on menstrual cycle physiology and the impact of irregular periods and PCOS on uterine health is needed. This analysis highlights the importance of talking to a healthcare provider when menstruators are experiencing persistent changes to their period that span many months. Over time, we hope our research can lead to new strategies to reduce disease risk and improve health across the lifespan.”