Ovarian Cancer Information That Can Save Lives
Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is in September, but it’s important to keep our ovaries in the spotlight, They should no be just another organ that is ignored until needed or until something goes wrong.
On the contrary, with ovarian cancer killing 14,000 women per year in the United States alone, no woman should ignore her dynamic reproductive duo.
So as women, we need to raise awareness on the steps we can take to prevent ovarian cancer:
1. 22,000 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year
While the awareness efforts may peak for one month of the year, it’s important to be aware of those fighting year-round to end this disease. Every 23 minutes, a woman is diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the United States. The fundraising, ongoing research, and patient support need to last all year long until every woman’s ovaries are safe from this gynecologic cancer.
2. Women whose chances for ovarian cancer are high
- Women who have already suffered at the hands of breast or cervical cancer in their lifetimes are more at risk of developing ovarian cancer.
- Women whose families have a history of breast or ovarian cancer have higher chances.
- Women with genetic mutations BRCA1 and BRCA2 have a greater risk of both breast and ovarian cancer.
Women with a family history of these cancers should ask their doctor about genetic testing today.
3. Warning signals that your body sends
Ovarian cancer is known as a “whispering disease” thanks to its subtle and sometimes confusing symptoms. Common symptoms include:
- Menstrual changes
- Pain in the pelvis or abdomen
- The frequent need to urinate
- Back pain
- An upset stomach
Only 15% of women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in Stage 1, oftentimes because these symptoms are ignored or associated with menopause or a woman’s menstrual cycle.
It’s important to acknowledge new and unusual symptoms in your body; while they might seem benign to you, you should notify your doctor right away and continue to monitor your body for any other new symptoms.
4. How to protect your ovaries from toxins
There are consumer products on the market today that are targeted toward women for feminine hygiene. However, not all of these products are safe to put on or in your body. Products that use harsh chemicals, dyes, glitter or fragrances can be toxic and should be kept away from a woman’s vagina.
Women also should refrain from using talcum powder near their genitals. Studies have shown a link between talc-based baby powders and the development of ovarian cancer. The exact relationship between the two is still unclear, however, studies and recent court verdicts see a threat and recommend that women use talc-free alternatives such as arrowroot.
5. Reduce the risk of ovarian cancer
As a woman ages, her risk of ovarian cancer increases. Over 50% of women with ovarian cancer are over the age of 60. Time and aging cannot be stopped, but there are some things a woman can do to lower her risk for ovarian cancer.
Women who have given birth have a lower chance of developing ovarian cancer. The same can be said for women who breastfed their children. Both of these actions reduce ovulation in a woman’s body, protecting her from over-active ovaries.
Along these same lines, oral contraceptives, used to regulate a woman’s ovulation cycle, can also reduce a woman’s ovarian cancer risk. If taken for five years or more, oral contraceptives have been known to reduce the risk by 50%.
Regular exercise and a healthy diet can also be a life-saving change in the face of ovarian cancer along with heart disease and obesity. Women with a BMI over 30 have a greater risk of ovarian cancer and a more difficult time fighting it during treatment. With a set exercise routine and a diet rich in vitamins A, D & E, and omega-3 fatty acids, you can be one step further from life-threatening diseases
While we can’t control all the odds, we can work hard to prevent ovarian cancer from plaguing our lives. Ovarian cancer is not something I will think or talk about merely one month out of the year. It is a disease that affects tens of thousands of women globally, and we all need to work to put an end to it along with the other courageous people fighting for a cure.