Effect of the childhood environment on adult reproductive behaviours and endometrial cancer risk

Fritha Argus

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

    196 Downloads (Pure)


    [Truncated abstract] This thesis brings together the biological effects of different childhood environments with an examination of the influence of these same biological variables on cancer risk. It is the first integrative piece of research to model such relationships across the life course. The first 5-7 years of life are important in the development of reproductive behaviours and adult pair-bonding. Individuals with stressful childhood environments often have early maturation, early onset of sexual activity, and early, rapid reproduction. Additionally, functional birth order and natal family composition influence onset of sexual maturation and activity, and in some populations impact reproductive timing and success. These reproductive parameters (e.g. age at menarche and number of children) influence the number of menstrual cycles a woman experiences. Endometrial cancer is the most common gynaecological cancer and the fourth most common cancer in women. Lifetime exposure to oestrogen and progesterone, and the relative number of menstrual cycles influence endometrial cancer risk. Therefore, it can be hypothesised that early childhood conditions may influence the risk of endometrial cancer through changes to adult reproductive behaviours and hormone exposure. My investigation of these relationships comprises a case-control study using both questionnaire and routinely recorded cancer registry data. Women with endometrial cancer (cases) and women with non-reproductive, non-endocrine cancers (controls) were invited to participate by completing a questionnaire about their childhood, reproductive history and adult lifestyle. A total of 1192 women (response fraction = 42.5%) returned completed questionnaires. After exclusion of women with incorrectly diagnosed cancers or missing data, and controls reporting a hysterectomy, the resulting data set included 252 Type 1 endometrial cancer cases and 558 controls.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2012


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