Ovarian Cancer Risk Factors

Cancers are named after the part of the body where the abnormal cell growth occurs. Different factors will cause abnormal growths in different parts of the body.

However, this is not always the case. Many of the same factors can cause abnormal cell growth in various parts of the body.

For example, ovarian cancer risk factors are not much different than breast cancer risk factors.

Unfortunately, ovarian cancer symptoms (if you have any at all) are very similar to symptoms of various other illnesses, diseases or regular pre-menstrual symptoms – bloating, pelvic pain, loss of appetite and frequent urination.

Many women will ignore these symptoms, and that is why ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it is too late for proper treatment. It is important for women to know if they are in the high risk category, so that they can be checked regularly for this disease.

Some medications are linked to increased ovarian cancer, but not pain meds

Are You At Risk of Ovarian Cancer?

The fact is that all women with ovaries are at risk. But being at risk doesn't mean you will get the disease. Many women with several risk factors never get cancer, and many with no ovarian cancer risk factors at all, do.

Even if you do develop ovarian cancer, doctors cannot say for sure how much your risk factors contributed to the development of the disease.

Risk factors of ovarian cancer:

Age
As you get older, your chances of developing ovarian cancer increase, as long as you still have your ovaries. Your risk is greatly reduced if you have a total or partial hysterectomy, or if you have a tubal ligation. Approximately half of all ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed in women aged 60 or older.

Obesity
Studies indicate that there could be a connection between obesity and ovarian cancer. Results are inconclusive, so it is considered a low risk factor, but it is still a good idea to keep your weight under control.

A healthy diet filled with plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and low in red meats and processed foods will help you keep your weight under control and reduce your risk of developing ovarian cancer, as well as many other diseases.

Family History
Ovarian cancer is often hereditary. Your risk of developing ovarian cancer increases the more of your immediate family members have, or have had the disease. You can inherit the cancerous gene from either your mother's side of the family or your father's.

Your risk also increases if you have immediate family members with breast or colon cancer.

Breast Cancer
Women with breast cancer have a high risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Talcum Powder
Some studies indicated a link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. Researchers believed that when the powder was applied to the genitals or on sanitary napkins, it could enter the body and encourage abnormal cell growth.

However, there haven't been any recent studies (after all traces of asbestos was removed from talcum powder) to say whether or not talcum powder is still considered an ovarian cancer risk factor.

Factors That Do Not Increase the Risk of Ovarian Cancer

Pain Medications
Some studies show that using aspirin or acetaminophen may reduce a woman's chances of developing ovarian cancer. However, the results are inconsistent.

If you aren't already using these medications for other health problems, you shouldn't start now as a way of preventing ovarian cancer. Further research in needed to confirm if they really do reduce the risk.

Smoking and Alcohol Use
No solid evidence has been found that suggests smoking and alcohol use might increase your risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Having Babies
Women who are very fertile and regular, and have had full-term pregnancies, are less likely to develop ovarian cancer. Each full term pregnancy reduces the risk even more. Breastfeeding is also believed to reduce your risk.

Birth Control
Birth control pills and birth control injections have been proven to reduce your risk of developing ovarian cancer. Studies show the longer you use these birth control methods, the more your risk lowers.

Birth control pills are not linked to increased risk of ovarian cancer

Don't Ignore the Risks

If you have any ovarian cancer risk factors, you should see your doctor. He can assess just how much at risk you may be.

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