(NaturalNews) Research continues to show that a diet high in meat and fat can dramatically increase a woman's risk of developing ovarian cancer, the top killer among gynecologic cancers.
Although ovarian cancer is relatively rare - in the United States, women have less than a 2.5 percent lifetime risk of developing the disease - it is also highly lethal, with a five-year survival rate of less than 50 percent once it reaches an advanced stage. The deadliness of the disease is caused, in part, by the fact that it is often detected late due to the generality of its symptoms (which include bloating, gas, indigestion, frequent urination, and abdominal or pelvic pain).
Fortunately, numerous studies suggest that a healthy diet can significantly reduce a woman's risk of this deadly disease.
Eat less meat, more veggies
One study, conducted by researchers from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, and the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2009, compared the diets of 683 women with ovarian cancer to those of 777 women without the disease. The researchers found that women who ate a diet high in meat and fat were as much as 50 percent more likely to develop ovarian cancer than women who ate less of those foods. In contrast, a diet high in fruits and vegetables did not increase the risk of the disease.
There is no clear correlation, however, between any one type of meat and an increased ovarian cancer risk. A 2010 study, also conducted by researchers from there and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was based on a meta-analysis of several prior studies, as well as an analysis of two separate population-based studies conducted 10 years apart.
The researchers found no correlation between total meat intake or red meat intake and the risk of ovarian cancer. They did find that a high intake of processed meat significantly increased the risk of the disease, however. In addition, frequent poultry intake was associated with a reduced risk of ovarian cancer, as was high fish intake.
"Our results suggest that low consumption of processed meat and higher consumption of poultry and fish may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer," the researchers wrote.
"Our research suggests that women who eat processed meat several times a week have about a 20 percent higher risk of developing ovarian cancer than women who eat processed meat less than once a week," said researcher Penny Webb. "Conversely, it appears that women who eat more poultry and fish may have a 10-15 percent lower risk of developing ovarian cancer than those who eat less poultry or fish."
Finally, the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, published in the British Journal of Cancer in 2012, found that women who ate the most fat were 28 percent more likely to develop ovarian cancer than women who ate the least fat. Animal fat increased cancer risk significantly more than fat from vegetable sources.
The connection between fat intake and ovarian cancer was highest among women who had never had children and those who had never used oral contraceptives.
Further research is needed to tease apart the exact contributions that different meats and fats make to ovarian cancer risk. Fortunately, that need not stop women from eating less fat and processed meat, which can also provide other health benefits.
Getting more exercise can also help women prevent ovarian cancer. According to a study published in the International Journal of Cancer in 2005, engaging in moderate exercise every day significantly reduces the risk of the disease.
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