Ovaries are an important female reproductive organ. Every month, they release an egg at the time of ovulation. Ovaries also secrete two important reproductive hormones namely progesterone and estrogen. The latter helps in the formation of breasts and determines body shape and hair growth in women. The oval-shaped organs are connected to the uterus through the fallopian tubes.
Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of gynecological death, worldwide. Cancer develops deep inside the abdominal cavity making it almost impossible to be detected in its earliest stages. It remains undetected till it reaches the pelvis and stomach—at an advanced stage. This makes treatment difficult and can prove fatal. There is no specific screening or testing method for ovarian cancer. Cancer prevention and potential management is a combination of both scans and healthcare. Dr. M Ponraj, Consultant Medical Oncologist, Thangam Hospitals of PMRC, Pallakad suggested few lifestyle changes one can make to prevent ovarian cancer.
5 LIFESTYLE CHANGES TO PREVENT OVARIAN CANCER
Diet and Nutrition: A healthy, balanced, and nutritious diet is recommended to strengthen and maintain ovarian health. Food items rich in Vitamin A are known to provide resistance to ovarian cancer. Carrots, milk, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, spinach, eggs, and cod liver oil are a great addition to one’s diet. Additionally, selenium-rich food items are known to activate enzymes that act as antioxidants to ward off the risk of cancer due to genetic mutations. Nuts, eggs, and shellfish are known to be great sources of selenium. Vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits, red pepper, and broccoli helps to increase the body’s natural resistance to ovarian cancer by activating immune cells that can fight potential cancer growth.
Physical Activity: Regular physical activities like aerobics, swimming, dancing, or yoga might help to strengthen the immune and antioxidant systems building the body’s natural ability to ward off potential cancer growth. Exercise also improves bone health, combats obesity, and promotes blood circulation, and maintains normal blood sugar levels.
Beauty Products: Studies have found that products such as talcum powder, vaginal douches, and intimate hygiene products and lotions may contain carcinogens (substances that increase the risk of cancer in humans). Regular usage of such products, especially in intimate areas is known to increase ovarian cancer risk. One must opt for organic and non-toxic alternatives while choosing body care products.
Birth Control: Studies have shown that ovarian cancer risks were minimized by almost 50% in women using oral contraceptives for 5 or more years. The resistance benefits continued for years after discontinuation. However, it is advisable to consult with an expert before switching to such contraceptives.
Use & Exposure of Tobacco: Tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco increases the risk of ovarian cancer by three times in women than non-smokers. Ovarian cancer is termed as ‘The Silent Killer’ as it remains undetected for a long time. A combination of regular testing such as pelvic exams and transvaginal testing supported by responsible lifestyle choice can help in reducing the risk significantly.