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General

Reduce Your Risk for Ovarian Cancer

Since the cause for ovarian cancer is unknown, there are no specific prevention guidelines, however women can help lower their risk and increase the chances for early detection.

The most common risk factor for ovarian cancer is age. Ovarian cancer is more common in women over 60 years old or as a woman approaches or completes menopause. Ovarian cancer in women under 40 years old is rare, but it can occur.

Other factors that may increase the chance of ovarian cancer include:

  • History of breast, uterine, colon, or rectal cancers
  • Having never been pregnant
  • If your first period was earlier than the average age of 12
  • Menopause started later than normal the average age of 50
  • Use of postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Obesity
  • Endometriosis

Ovarian cancer tends to run in families. This is especially true for first-degree relatives like a sister, daughter, or mother. Other cancers in your family also increase your risk of ovarian cancer, including colon, rectal, or breast cancers. These cancers that are associated with genetic mutations. Families with a high risk of ovarian cancer may consider genetic testing to determine if known genetic factors are causing the increased risk.

Preventive Steps

There are no specific guidelines to prevent ovarian cancer because the cause is unknown. However, you can make lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of cancer, including:

Quitting smoking — Smoking negatively affects every cell in the body. The sooner smoking is stopped, the sooner the body can start to heal. Click here to learn about Griffin’s free smoking cessation program.

Maintaining a healthy weight — Eat a low-fat diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables. If you are overweight, talk to a weight-loss specialist who can help you lose and maintain weight safely. Click here to learn about Griffin’s weight loss management programs.

Regular exercise —Regular exercise is good for overall health, wellness and maintaining a healthy weight. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise (which can be a brisk walk) on most days of the week. If you currently do not exercise, talk to your doctor about how to get started on a program safely. Click here to learn about Griffin’s lifestyle change program.

Prophylactic surgery — This is recommended for women who need a hysterectomy for any reason not related to cancer. Removing both fallopian tubes may help prevent ovarian cancer regardless of genetic risk.

These factors are also associated with reduced ovarian cancer risk:

  • Having children
  • Breastfeeding
  • Long-term oral contraceptive use
  • History of gynecologic surgery, such as a hysterectomy or tubal ligation
  • Regular use of aspirin

It is important to note that these methods will not work for everyone. Some methods also carry serious risks that may outweigh the long-term benefits. Talk to your doctor about your overall risk of ovarian cancer to determine if these would be helpful for you.

Some of the information in this article can be attributed to EBSCO Information Services.