Is the incidence of colorectal cancer related to reproduction? A Prospective study of 63,000 women



Relationships between reproductive factors and risk of colorectal cancer were examined in a population-based prospective study in Norway. Available for analysis were 831 cases (581 colon cancer, 250 rectal cancer) diagnosed in a cohort of 63,090 women, surveyed in 1956-1959 and followed through 1980. Overall, the analyses showed no strong effects of reproductive factors. In particular, high parity was not associated with reduced risk, and late age at first or last birth was not associated with an increased overall risk. However, in age-specific analyses of colon cancer, adverse effects of late age at first birth and late age at last birth were observed in women with cancer diagnosed before the age of 60. A non-significant overall excess risk in parous compared to nulliparous women was strongest for women with a cancer diagnosis before the age of 50 years. Having had many abortions was associated with increased risk for all sub-sites. Neither age at menarche nor age at menopause were related to risk of colorectal cancer. The results suggest that reproductive factors, which are of importance in the etiology of cancer of the breast and genital organs in women, are not similarly related to risk of colorectal cancer.