Ovarian cancer is the abnormal growth of cells in the ovaries leading to a tumour. Although it isn’t the leading cause of cancer deaths in women, ovarian cancer still affects a huge number of women.
There’s no set risk factor for getting ovarian cancer since we are all different and our bodies react differently to different situations. Risk factors are those features that change your probability of contacting a disease by reducing or increasing the chance.
For ovarian cancer, the risk factors include generic (those that we cannot change) and lifestyle (those that we can change) traits. However, it is important to note that not every case of ovarian cancer begun with these factors. Also, not everyone who possesses these factors is at risk of getting ovarian cancer.
Some of the common risk factors attributed to ovarian cancer include:
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Since one of the contributing factors for ovarian cancer is exposure to estrogen, women who have no children and those who delayed to get children are at a higher risk of being diagnosed. This is because the longer a woman is exposed to estrogen, the higher her risk of ovarian cancer. Breaking the estrogen levels during your child bearing age, by getting pregnant, may therefore reduce your chances of getting ovarian cancer.
Just like for pregnancy, breastfeeding reduces the exposure of estrogen to your body. This is because lactating delays your chances of going back to your normal menstrual cycle hence preventing ovulation. This in turn results to increased exposure to estrogen and abnormal cells that could become cancer during ovulation.
Research has indicated that women who have had a close blood relative with ovarian cancer in the past are at a slightly higher risk of being diagnosed with the same. Although these cases are not many, ovarian cancer is likely to occur when you inherit mutated genes from your parent. These faulty genes contribute to breast and ovarian cancer in most cases.
Oral contraceptive use
Women who have used oral contraceptives for a while in their productive years are at a lower risk of getting ovarian cancer according to research. This is because modifications of the pill contain different doses of synthetic estrogen which acts on your body in controllable ways unlike your natural body’s estrogen which exposes you to risk. You should, however, handle pills carefully as they have been mentioned as risk factors for breast cancer.
The risk of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer increases as you age. Studies show that most ovarian cases are detected after the age of 60 while half of ovarian cancer cases occur to women above 65 years. It is nonetheless important to be on the lookout for early detection as ovarian cancer may affect younger women with other risk factors.