Ovarian Cancer and Obesity

Women, who are postmenopausal, never used hormone replacement therapy and obese may have an increased risk for ovarian cancer according to a new study compared to women of normal weight. The study also shows that obese women who have used hormone replacement therapy (HRT) do not have the same risk factor. The findings from this latest study were published in the Feb 15, 2008 issue of the journal Cancer.

Did you know that the two leading causes of cancer in the western world are tobacco usage and obesity? The increased risk for ovarian cancer is yet another reason for obese women to lose weight. In the U.S., ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cancer killer for women and only 37% of women with ovarian cancer will survive past five years from the diagnosis.

Interestingly, women who have had children and who’ve used oral contraceptives appear to have a decreased risk of ovarian cancer. The combination of family history of ovarian cancer contributes to the risk for ovarian cancer and women who have a family history of ovarian cancer and who are obese have an increased risk for ovarian cancer.

According to the study obese women who had never used hormone therapy have an 80% higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. If the obese women have not had a history of ovarian disease have a 36% chance for ovarian cancer. The reason seems to be that excess fat on the body increases production of estrogen, which then spurs on the growth of ovarian cancer.

There is some evidence that those women who were exposed to menopausal hormones were actually protected from ovarian cancer.

Furthermore, an obese woman with ovarian cancer is more likely to die from it than a woman with ovarian cancer of normal weight, according to scientists at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The scientists also said that obesity cuts down the chances for survival for women with ovarian cancer and also make recurrence of the cancer more likely and women are also more likely to die earlier.

Experts believe that women who prevent weight gain can reduce their risk for ovarian and other cancers.

Statistics show that in 2002, approximately 41,000 new cases of cancer were estimated to be due to obesity in the U.S. According to the U.S. Cancer Detection and Prevention 2003 a “3.2% of all new cancers are linked to obesity”. Although some studies showed a link between obesity and ovarian cancer other studies showed no association between the two and another study showed that women who were obese in their youth had an increased risk for ovarian cancer but women who became obese when they were older did not have any increased risk for cancer.

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