Reducing the Risk of Lynch Syndrome

By Sharon Smith
Thursday, 09 July, 2015


A paper published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association led by researchers from the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, reveals that women with one child are 60% less likely to develop uterine cancer, compared with women with no children, and even lower for women with more than one child.
The study also found that women with Lynch syndrome who have used hormonal contraceptives (including birth control pills, injection, implants and IUDs) for at least one year have half the risk of developing uterine cancer compared with women who have not used hormonal contraceptives.
“Our findings show that the effects of hormonal factors for women with Lynch syndrome are similar to those for women from the general population who do not have Lynch syndrome. Further studies will be needed to confirm the study findings,” says author Dr Win.
Uterine cancer is the most common type of gynaecologic cancer in developed countries including Australia, and between 2-5% of all uterine cancers are associated with an underlying genetic condition, mainly Lynch syndrome.
Further studies are underway by this team to determine if other lifestyle factors are associated with uterine cancer risk for women with Lynch syndrome.
In a separate study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute the same team confirmed that those with Lynch syndrome who took aspirin regularly were less likely to develop bowel cancer than Lynch syndrome patients who did not take aspirin.
This study also uncovered an additional finding that Lynch syndrome patients who took ibuprofen regularly, another nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, were about 60% less likely to develop bowel cancer compared with those who did not take ibuprofen. This protection was seen in both men and women.
At least 1 in 1000 people in the population have the genetic mutation that causes Lynch syndrome. These people have a much higher rate of bowel cancer than the general population and about half would develop the disease without regular screening.
“The main risk reduction method for these people is to have regular colonoscopy screening. Almost nothing is known about if and how lifestyle factors and medications can modify their risk of bowel cancer,” Dr Win says.
Studies to determine the optimal dose, duration and timing of treatment are currently underway.

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