Excess Body Weight Increases Risk of Ovarian Cancer, Report Finds

Women may be able to lower their risk of ovarian cancer by maintaining a healthy weight.

A comprehensive report found that being overweight increases a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer – the most deadly gynecological cancer in the United States.

Ovarian cancer joins a growling list of cancers whose risk is increased by carrying excess body fat, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research, which issued the new report. That list includes: colorectal cancer, endometrial cancer, esophageal cancer, kidney cancer, gallbladder cancer, pancreatic cancer and post-menopausal breast cancer. When added together, about 585,600 cases of these eight cancers are diagnosed nationwide every year, a news release from the AICR states.

Maintaining a healthy weight could prevent about 120,900 cases of cancer every year, the report states.

“This is an important finding because it shows a way for women to reduce their chances of getting ovarian cancer,” said Dr. Elisa V. Bandera, associate professor of epidemiology at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and one of the authors of the report. “There is so much we don’t know about preventing ovarian cancer, but now we can tell women that keeping to a healthy weight can help protect against this deadly disease.”

Every year, roughly 14,000 women die nationwide from ovarian cancer. It is the fifth leading cause of cancer death. Difficult to detect, many women are not diagnosed until the disease is in its later stages.

Two-thirds of women in the United States are overweight or obese, which puts them at increased risk for developing any of the eight cancers related to body weight, the AICR release states.

“These latest findings from the Continuous Update Project offer another reminder that our weight, and our lifestyle, play an important role in cancer risk for both women and men,” said Alice Bender, AICR associate director of nutrition programs. “This is really an empowering message. There are no guarantees, but adding activity into your day and healthy plant foods onto your plate are steps you can take today to reduce your risk of cancer and other chronic conditions as well.”

The AICR lists the following recommendations for cancer prevention, based on its report Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective:

  • Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight.
  • Be physically active for at least 30 minutes daily.
  • Avoid sugary drinks.
  • Eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes.
  • Limit eating beef, pork, lamb and processed meats.
  • Don’t use supplements to protect against cancer.
  • Women who become mothers should breastfeed their babies exclusively for up to six months and then add other liquids and foods.
  • Do not smoke or chew tobacco.

Source: AICR news release

+ Learn about cancer care services at Bon Secours Hampton Roads.

+ Read more about recommended health screenings for women.

Speak Your Mind