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Originally published January 11 2009

Stay Fat and Raise Ovarian Cancer Risk Eighty Percent

by Sherry Baker, Health Sciences Editor

(NaturalNews) Ovarian cancer is far too often a killer. With frequently overlooked, vague symptoms like abdominal bloating, it is not unusual for this malignancy to only be discovered when it has advanced and spread to other organs. In fact, ovarian cancer has a five year survival rate of only 37 percent and is considered to be the most fatal of gynecologic cancers.

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), about one in 72 women will be diagnosed with cancer of the ovary during their lifetime. A family history of ovarian cancer and certain breast cancers raises the risk of the disease due to genetic reasons. However, the truth is many cases of ovarian cancer occur in women who have no family history of the malignancy -- and a new epidemiological study has found that a natural strategy could dramatically lower the risk of ovarian cancer in these women. The key to prevention? For many it could be simply maintaining a healthy weight.

Dr. Michael F. Leitzmann of the NCI and his cancer research team studied 94,525 U.S. women between the ages of 40 and 71 over a period of seven years. Bottom line: once again, scientists have linked what people put in their bodies, including what they put into their bodies in excess, to the development of cancer. They documented 303 ovarian cancer cases during this period and discovered that among women who had never taken post-menopausal hormone therapy, obesity was associated with an astounding almost 80 percent higher risk of ovarian cancer.

The research is set for publication in the February 15, 2009, issue of CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society. While previous studies have found links between being overweight and higher risks of certain cancers, little has been known about the relationship between excess weight and ovarian cancer risk. The new study, however, strongly indicates obesity contributes to the development of ovarian cancer through a hormonal mechanism.

In a statement to the media, Dr. Leitzmann explained excess body mass in women after menopause leads to an increased production of estrogen and that may stimulate the growth of ovarian cells and spur the development of ovarian cancer. The scientists found that women with no family history of ovarian cancer were the ones who had the dramatically raised risk of ovarian cancer due to obesity. In contrast, no link between body weight and ovarian cancer was evident for women with a family history of the disease or those who had ever used menopausal hormone therapy.

These latest findings provide important additional information related to women's risks of developing ovarian cancer. "The observed relations between obesity and ovarian cancer risk have relevance for public health programs aimed at reducing obesity in the population," the authors wrote.

Journal reference for more information: "Body mass index and risk of ovarian cancer." Michael F. Leitzmann, Corinna Koebnick, Kim N. Danforth, Louise A. Brinton, Steven C. Moore, Albert R. Hollenbeck, Arthur Schatzkin, and James V. Lacey, Jr. CANCER; Published Online: January 05, 2009 (DOI: 10.1002/cncr.24086); Print Issue Date: February 15, 2009.

About the author

Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA’s "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic’s "Men’s Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.

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