Risk Factors For Ovarian Cancer

Cancers can strike in frighteningly random seeming ways; with there being no guarantees that sensible, healthy living will help a person stave off the disease.

The unpredictability with which cancers strike can bewilder; however increasing awareness of risk factors can help to understand them better. In general, the following are thought to be the risk factors for ovarian cancer

1. The risk of ovarian cancer rises with age, and women over the age of 40 are advised periodic pelvic exams to help detect it earlier. Half the women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are over the age of 63.
2. Caucasian women have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer whereas women of Asian and African ethnic groups in their native countries have the lowest incidence of the disease.
3. If there is a history of ovarian cancer in the family, the chances of getting ovarian cancer are greatly enhanced.
4. High fat diets, particularly if they are high in animal fats, are known to increase ovarian cancer risk. In general, obesity is seen to significantly increase the risk of a woman developing ovarian cancer. This can also explain why the highest incidence of the disease is in affluent western societies. Also obese women who develop ovarian cancer are more at risk from dying from their disease.
5. Later pregnancy and childbirth (after age 35), early puberty and late menopause can all contribute to the risk. The risk decreases with each pregnancy. Some experts also believe that breast feeding lowers the risk.
6. Using talcum powder in the genital area is seen to increase risk, possibly due to asbestos particles in the powder.
7. Women with endometrial cancer or breast cancer are at higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.
8. Use of fertility drugs is seen to increase risk of this cancer if taken for more than a year. Infertile women are seen to be more at risk in any case; even if they do not take fertility drugs.
9. Drugs such as Danazol, that increases androgen levels, and estrogen hormone therapy can also increase risk of ovarian cancer.
10. Birth control pills are seen to increase the risk of developing breast cancer, but they are shown to decrease ovarian cancer risk.
11. What is also seen to decrease risk is having the tubal ligation procedure (getting the tubes tied) and hysterectomy (removal of uterus only).
12. Aspirin and acetaminophen use are seen to somewhat decrease the risk of developing ovarian cancer.
13. Drinking coffee is also associated with lowering risk of ovarian cancer.