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Women who have their ovaries removed before menopause may find themselves at higher risk for chronic kidney disease, a new study by the Mayo Clinic has suggested.

Risk can go up more than 7 percent for some women, according to the study that looked specifically at more than 1,600 premenopausal women living in and around Rochester over the span of 14 years.

Researchers believe the reason behind it is the drop in estrogen levels that follows the procedure.

“This is the first study that has shown an important link between estrogen deprivation in younger women and kidney damage,” said study senior author Dr. Walter Rocca, a neurologist and epidemiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Though the study did not prove cause and effect, women considering having their ovaries removed should be aware of this potentially serious risk, particularly if they aren’t at high risk for ovarian and breast cancer, the researchers added.

While other studies have already shown removing ovaries at too young of an age can increase a wide variety of chronic diseases and mortality, this study adds chronic kidney failure to that list.

Chronic kidney disease occurs when the kidneys are damaged and can’t filter the blood as well as they should. If the kidneys fail, patients must undergo dialysis and a kidney transplant.

Finding the overall kidney failure risk in women under 50 who had not had their ovaries taken out is 13 percent. That number jumps to 20 percent for those with them removed.

Still, the exact correlation between ovaries producing estrogen and kidney strength remains unknown.

Previous studies have shown that the female hormone estrogen has a protective effect on the kidneys. In this latest study, researchers investigated how the removal of both ovaries affected the kidney function of women who had not yet experienced menopause.

The findings were published Sept 19 in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

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