5 Tips to Reduce the Risk of Ovarian Cancer

Irregular menstruation, difficulty eating, and urinary issues are just a few signs of the later stages of ovarian cancer, when the cancer has spread to the pelvis and the abdomen. Unfortunately, there are no symptoms in the earliest stage, when the cancer is contained to the ovaries and easiest to treat. It’s estimated that 22,000 women will be diagnosed this year in these later stages.

Any woman that has ovaries is at risk of ovarian cancer, although there are some factors that increase this risk. Having a family history of the cancer, carrying the genetic mutations BRCA1 or BRCA2, or being over the age of 63 are just a few of the uncontrollable factors that increase the risk of developing the disease. However, there are some lifestyle factors you can control to decrease your risk of ovarian cancer. 

1. Exercise and Diet
By maintaining a weekly exercise regime and a healthy diet, the risk of ovarian cancer decreases. By working out 30 minutes every day, you can decrease your risk by up to 20%. Along with an active lifestyle, incorporating certain foods into your diet can also decrease your risk. Foods like beans, eggs, nuts, and other foods that provide Vitamin D are recommended as well as foods high in Vitamin A like carrots, leafy greens, and sweet potatoes.

2. Oral Contraceptives
Women who have a history of taking oral contraceptives are studied to have up to a 50% lower risk of developing ovarian cancer. The longer the medication is used, the lower the risk of developing ovarian cancer. Oral contraceptives are not for everyone, so be sure to consult your physician to see if this is what works best for you.

3. Avoiding Carcinogens
Carcinogens are substances that is capable of causing cancer. There are many of these substances that cause cancer only if you are already at risk of developing cancer, such as a family history or a genetic mutation. However, there are some that are capable of causing cancer regardless. Avoiding substances such as talcum powder, which has been found in everyday products such as baby powder, vaginal deodorants and makeup, could decrease your risk of ovarian cancer. There are many women who have used some of these products regularly near the genital area and have developed ovarian cancer. This has lead to numerous lawsuits against companies that develop these products in a way to create awareness to help women avoid products like these.

4. Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
Women who have birthed at least one child, especially before the age of 30, have a lower risk of developing ovarian cancer. This risk lowers for each child a woman births. Not only that, but women who breastfeed their children also have a lower risk of developing ovarian cancer

5. Healthy Lifestyle
Avoiding the use and exposure of tobacco products can not only lower your risk for ovarian cancer, but many other types of cancer as well. It’s also recommended to limit your alcohol consumption to three drinks per week. Avoiding tobacco and limiting your alcohol consumption, as well as following the above tip to exercise daily and maintain a healthy diet can decrease your risk of ovarian cancer.

University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center at Firelands Regional Medical Center treats a wide variety of cancers, including ovarian. For more information visit firelands.com/cancer.