A record number of women are being diagnosed with womb cancer because they are having fewer kids or none at all, figures suggest. The effect of this on their hormones puts them more at risk.
Rates of the disease have risen by almost 50 per cent in the past 30 years. Doctors also attribute the rise to increasing rates of obesity, which can double the chances of developing a tumour.
Figures from Cancer Research UK reveal that 19 in every 100,000 women develop the disease, compared with 13 per 100,000 in 1975, a rise of almost 50 per cent.
It is the fourth most common form of cancer in women and rates have increased faster than for any other form of the disease, apart from malignant melanoma, a form of skin cancer.
Womb cancer usually occurs after menopause, between 60 and 69. Doctors believe obesity accounts for between 30 and 50 per cent of all cancers of the womb — but they do not offer figures for the number of tumours they believe are caused by having fewer children.
Jessica Harris, health information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: "Women are more exposed to womb cancer when there are higher levels of the hormone oestrogen in their blood.
"This obviously changes during their menstrual cycle but it will also decrease when women are pregnant."
According to official statistics, one in five women have not had a baby by the time they are 40, twice as many as 20 years ago.
They also have smaller families, with one in ten women having more than four children, compared with one in five 20 years ago.
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