How to Reduce Your Risk of Ovarian CancerMost incidences of ovarian cancer are classified as epithelial ovarian cancer. In fact, approximately 90 percent of all cancers of the ovary are of this type. As is the case with every cancer, there are certain risk factors for epithelial ovarian cancer that put women at increased risk of developing the disease in their lifetime, including, among others, older age, a family history of the disease and a personal history of cancer. Though some risk factors are unavoidable, there are ways women can effectively reduce their risk of ovarian cancer.
Women using oral contraceptives, or birth control pills, can significantly reduce their risk over time. According to the American Cancer Society, women who have used oral contraceptives for at least five years may reduce their ovarian cancer risk by up to 50 percent. There are risks to using birth control pills, however, including increased risk of breast cancer. Women thinking about establishing a birth control regimen through oral contraceptives should discuss the possible benefits and side effects with their doctors.
Various gynecological surgeries can reduce ovarian cancer risk as well. Tubal ligation is a procedure performed to sterilize women who no longer wish to have children. This surgery can reduce a woman's risk by up to 67 percent. Hysterectomies are procedures to remove the uterus and can reduce ovarian cancer risk by about 33 percent. Despite these findings, these procedures should only be done for legitimate medical reasons, and it is not recommended that they be performed solely to reduce one's risk of ovarian cancer.
It has also been found that ovarian cancer risk may be reduced by the consumption of carotenoids, a micronutrient that exists in raw carrots. The same can be said for the antioxidant compound lycopene, which is often found in tomatoes.
For women who believe they may be at increased risk of ovarian cancer due to an inherited gene mutation, genetic testing may be able to help. Women with a family history of ovarian cancer often undergo genetic testing to test for the mutations BRCA 1 and BRCA 2. Though these gene mutations were originally named for their relation to breast cancer incidences, they have also been found to increase the likelihood of ovarian cancer. For women who are at especially high risk of the disease, surgery to remove the ovaries is an option to consider. Studies have shown that through ovary-removal surgery, pre-menopausal women carrying the BRCA gene mutations might reduce their risk of ovarian cancer by as much as 95 percent and breast cancer by up to 60 percent.