Historic finding: Ovarian cancer linked to lifestyle factor

New research has found yet another reason for women to watch their waistlines. For the first time in the history of scientific research, ovarian cancer has been directly linked to being overweight.

For the first time, scientific research has established a direct link between being overweight and ovarian cancer.

The finding comes from a study published by World Cancer Research Fund International and the American Institute of Cancer Research as part of their Continuous Update Project (CUP) – a comprehensive analysis of all scientific research on the link between weight, diet, physical activity and cancer.

Lead researcher Ricardo Uauy, professor of Public Health Nutrition at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, explains the connection in a recent blog post. “Body fat increases the risk for ovarian and other cancers in complex ways," he wrote. " Fat tissue is not only the main energy store in our bodies, but it is also metabolically active, producing hormone like compounds that promote inflammation and specific proteins that can affect cell growth and turnover; thus increasing the risk of some forms of cancer. Being obese or overweight also increases blood levels of insulin and insulin-like growth factors that may promote the growth of cancer cells.”

Uauy stressed that weight is not the single most contributing risk factor for ovarian cancer, but said maintaining a healthy weight is among a growing list of measures that can be taken to prevent the onset of ovarian cancer, particular for women over age 55.

Ovarian cancer is the seventh most common cancer in women worldwide, accounting for nearly 4 per cent of all new cases of cancer in women. Read the study here.

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