SACRAMENTO (CBS Sacramento) – Women with irregular menstrual periods may be at greater risk of dying from ovarian cancer, says a new study reported on by Live Science.

Researchers considered a menstrual cycle as “irregular” if they lasted for more than 35 days or if an egg was not released during ovulation.

In the study, women with irregular menstrual cycles at age 26 were about twice as likely to die from ovarian cancer in their 60s compared with women with regular periods.

The researchers discounted other risk factors, such as weight, age and use of fertility drugs or birth control pills, that may affect a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer.

All of the over 14,000 women in the study had given birth.

The findings are counter to previous research that suggested less frequent ovulation would reduce the ovarian cancer risk.

“Unfortunately, there is no reliable method for early diagnosis or screening [of ovarian cancer], and symptoms like abdominal pain and bloating often do not come to a woman’s attention until the cancer has spread,” said study researcher Barbara Cohn, director of Child Health and Development Studies at the Public Health Institute in Berkeley, Calif.

Cohn is hopeful the new findings will help with earlier diagnoses of and a strategy to prevent ovarian cancer.

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