MUMS who have babies before the age of 20 are more likely to develop lung cancer later in life, warns a new study.
Scientists identified teen pregnancy as one of the most significant reproductive factors associated with a higher risk of the condition, which kills 35,000 people in the UK every year.
Starting your period at a young age, early menopause and shortened reproductive span were also on the list.
Researchers from Xiangya Hospital in China studied data from 273,190 people in the UK Biobank.
They analysed the links between individual reproductive factors and the risk of developing lung cancer, as well as looking at age, smoking habits, body mass index (BMI) and genetic risks.
A total of 1,182 cases of lung cancer were recorded over an average follow-up period of 12 years.
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Several factors showed a "significant" association with a higher risk of the disease among women – particularly non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
These included entering puberty before the age of 11, menopause before the age of 46, a shorter reproductive span (to age 32), and having a baby before the age of 20.
Detailed analysis revealed that some reproductive factors – especially early menopause, shortened reproductive span, and early age at first birth – displayed a "substantially stronger" association with elevated lung cancer risk.
Lead researcher Dr Yi Zhang, from Central South University, said: "These findings are of paramount importance in our understanding of the potential risk factors for lung cancer among women."
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She added: "Early menarche, early menopause, and a shortened reproductive life span are associated with higher risks of incident lung cancer, especially non-small cell lung cancer, in subpopulations with specific genetic risk and lifestyle choices."
Dr Zhang said the research emphasises the importance of screening multiple reproductive factors in identifying potential lung cancer risk among women.
The findings were presented at the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer 2023 World Conference in Singapore.
Around 85 per cent of lung cancers are NSCLC, according to Cancer Research UK.
The three main types are adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and large cell carcinoma.
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