The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition estimates 1 in every 78 women will develop ovarian cancer in her lifetime. More than 14,000 will die of the disease in a single year.
Ovarian cancer is a form of cancer that attacks a woman's ovaries. It forms through rapid growth of abnormal cells in, on, or near the ovaries. However, according to Target Ovarian Cancer, 80 - 85% of ovarian cancers are "sporadic" cases.
A "sporadic" case of ovarian cancer is unrelated to genetics or family history. Thus, you may be able to significantly reduce your risk of developing ovarian cancer by managing your lifestyle and daily routines.
Take the time to learn what you can do today to prevent this deadly disease from making you its next target. We've outlined six things you can start doing now to help reduce your risk of ovarian cancer.
Move More, Eat Smarter
Exercise and healthy eating habits are the ground floor of a healthy, cancer-free you.
Studies have linked regular exercise with a lower risk of developing ovarian cancer. Exercise may also help a woman fight ovarian cancer if she is diagnosed with the disease. One study found that women who were inactive before their diagnosis were "22 percent to 34 percent more likely to die of the disease than those who had done at least some regular weekly exercise."
Bright Pink found that eating certain vitamins and avoiding red meat can help reduce a woman's cancer risk. Cancer-fighting foods include carrots, sweet potato, whole grains, flax, tropical fruits, broccoli, cauliflower and leafy greens.
Women who have ovarian cancer may benefit from vitamin D. Vitamin D may help slow the growth of cancer cells. Vitamin is found in fatty fish, orange juice, milk, nuts, beans, eggs and fortified cereals.
Birth Control Pills
Studies by the American Cancer Society show that women who take an oral contraceptive for a minimum of 5 years (consecutive or nonconsecutive) may lower their risk of contracting ovarian cancer by as much as 50%.
The pill is not for everyone. Some women may experience adverse side effects depending on the medication. Talk to your doctor about your options and whether taking an oral contraceptive is right for you.
Stop Using Talcum Powder
Talcum powder is made using the mineral talc. Talcum powder is used in a number of cosmetic and personal care items. It is also among a number of materials currently being studied for their link to ovarian cancer. Studies are not yet definitive on this matter. But, doctors recommend against using talcum powder in the genital region to avoid possible harm.
Many condom companies powder their non-lubricated products to prevent them from sticking together when unrolling. While most have made the switch to less harmful cornstarch, some still use talc or talc mixtures. To avoid purchasing condoms dusted with talc, seek lubricated or vegan options over powdered varieties.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Women who experience their first pregnancy prior to the age of 30 are at a lesser risk of a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found women who breastfeed for a year or more have a significantly reduced chance of cancer development in/on their ovaries.
Breast-feeding "lowers the risk for both breast and ovarian cancer by decreasing estrogen levels and the number of times you'll ovulate over the course of your life. It also may reduce a female baby's overall risk of developing breast cancer later in her life," according to Bright Pink.
Protect Yourself from Diabetes
A 2014 study by Gynecological Oncology looked at how a diabetes diagnosis affects a woman undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer. The study found that patients with diabetes undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer show significantly reduced outcomes in comparison to patients who do not have diabetes, regardless of weight and lifestyle. The diabetes drug, Metformin, may increase the chances of survival in patients undergoing treatment for both ovarian cancer and diabetes. Your doctor can help you better understand your options.
You can reduce your risk of a diabetes diagnosis by maintaining healthy eating and exercise habits. Doctors and nurses at the Harvard School of Public Health recommend maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding tobacco and minimizing alcohol consumption to three drinks per week. Red meat, processed meats, sugary beverages, fried foods and packaged foods all contribute to an increased risk of diabetes.
Surgeries to remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes are an option for women who have an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
While surgery can prevent ovarian cancer development, it does pose additional side effects and should not be sought solely for cancer prevention. Talk to your doctor and family if you're considering such a solution.
Spread the Word to Prevent Ovarian Cancer
While there is no guaranteed protection against ovarian cancer, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing this deadly disease by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If you have other risk factors, such as a family history or genetic predisposition, make sure you get annual checkups.
You can also help prevent ovarian cancer by talking about the disease with the women in your life. Knowledge is power. By spreading the word, you may just save a life.