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Does Being Overweight Increase Risk of Ovarian Cancer?

For the first time a new report suggests that being overweight increases a women’s risk of ovarian cancer, another form of cancer that adds to the expanding list linked to obesity or excess body fat.

Researchers have researched the link between excess body fat and ovarian cancer for years now, with inconclusive results. Today’s report, released by the American Institute for Cancer Research and World Cancer Research Fund, is the first to find that being obese is a “probable” cause of ovarian cancer per USA Today.

ovarian cancer

Maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce risk of ovarian cancer per new study.
Image courtesy of Pixabay

Researchers noted that while the increase is modest: a 5-point increase in a women’s body-mass index, or BMI, increases her risk of ovarian cancer by 6^. Body-mass index is calculated by a person’s height and weight. A BMI over 25 is considered overweight, while a BMI over 30 is considered obese, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The new report found other weaker evidence to suggest that breastfeeding can help combat the risk of ovarian cancer, though the report calls this evidence “limited” and “suggested” rather than definitive. Wright notes that there is evidence to suggest that taking oral contraceptives reduces ovarian cancer risk, because it reduces the number of times a woman ovulates.

Obesity has been linked to a variety of other health illnesses including tumors of the colon, uterus, esophagus, kidney, gallbladder, thyroid, and pancreas, and postmenopausal breast cancer according to the National cancer Institute.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and weight could prevent about one in five of these cancers, or more than 120,000 a year, according to the American Cancer Research technology.

Losing weight also offers more dramatic benefits in terms of reducing other illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease, notes Alexi Wright, a medical oncologist at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancer at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

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