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Ovarian cancer is cancer that starts in the ovaries, the female reproductive organs responsible for the production of eggs. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 22,000 new cases of this type of cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States alone, and more than 14,000 women die of the disease every year. Although this cancer claims fewer victims than lung cancer or breast cancer, ovarian cancer prevention is nonetheless a serious business that should interest all women.

Lowering the Risk Factor

Studies suggest that certain procedures or events in women’s lives may actually lower their risk of getting cancer of the ovaries. Among these events or procedures are:

  • Tubal ligation
  • Removal of both ovaries
  • Hysterectomy
  • Childbirth
  • Breastfeeding
  • Use of birth control pills
  • Healthy, low-fat diet
  • Use of aspirin and acetaminophen

Women at Risk

Just as certain procedures and events lower the risk for cancer in the ovaries, some factors increase women’s risk of getting the disease. While some factors cannot be changed, some are actually conditions that women can actively do something about.

  • Women over 40 have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.
  • Family history of cancer of the breast, the ovaries or the colorectal area. Women whose mother or sisters, or daughters have had cancer of the ovaries have a higher risk of being stricken with the disease. Mutations in the BRCA1 ad BRCA2 genes increase the risk of ovarian and breast cancer as well. Hence, you should opt for the top rated DNA ancestry testto screen yourself of the disease if you’re noticing symptoms.
  • Studies show that women who suffer from obesity are at a greater risk of getting this type of cancer.
  • Fertility drugs. The use of the fertility drug clomiphene citrate (Clomid®) may increase the risk of developing certain tumors in the ovary.
  • Estrogen and hormone therapy. Women who have been using estrogens to address problems brought about by menopause may be at higher risk of cancer in the ovaries.
  • Talcum powder. Application of talcum powder to the genital area or to sanitary napkins may contribute to greater risk of this type of cancer.

Surgical Options

Hysterectomy and removal of the ovaries will of course lower the risk of this cancer type. However, no doctor will agree to perform these procedures just for the sake of prevention unless there are strong indicators pointing to a patient’s vulnerability.

These procedures are only recommended for women who are at serious risk because of a clearly marked family history of ovarian or breast cancer coupled with positive testing for BRCA1 or BRA2 gene mutation or alteration. Studies have shown that this radical approach lessens the risk of cancer in those organs. However, this type of surgery may do little to prevent a very similar cancer which starts in the lining of the abdomen.

Possibly the most sensational illustration for this radical approach is Angelina Jolie’s decision to have a mastectomy after being genetically tested for BRCA1 and BRA2 alteration. Many have praised her for being willing to undergo such a controversial procedure but it remains to be seen whether or not more women will do the same in the interest of ovarian cancer prevention.


TAGS: DNA tests, ovarian cancer