Women’s Doc: Can exercise help prevent ovarian cancer?

I heard that exercise can help prevent ovarian cancer. Is that right? My grandma and aunt both had it and I want to do everything I can to keep from getting it.

I couldn’t agree more. Today, screening tests for ovarian cancer are not very accurate. That makes it all the more important to concentrate on strategies aimed at prevention. Regular exercise is good for many things. It lowers our risk of heart disease and stroke — even lowers our stress levels. And according to a new study it’s also good for cutting the risk of ovarian cancer.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh studied over two thousand women, aged 20 to 69, to see if staying active affected the odds of getting ovarian cancer. The study participants, including 767 women with ovarian cancer and a control group of 1367 healthy women, were interviewed about their leisure-time activities. They looked at how active the women were, not just recently, but over their lifetime — from adolescence through menopause and beyond.

Can exercise help prevent ovarian cancer?

Women's Doc: Can exercise help prevent ovarian cancer?

Their findings, published in the Journal Obstetrics & Gynecology (Cottreau CM, et al. Physical activity and reduced risk of ovarian cancer. Obstet Gynecol 2000; 96:609-14) are encouraging. Being active lowered the risk, and the more active the better. In fact, those women who stayed active, throughout their lifetime, cut their risk by 27 percent.

Taking birth control pills or having a tubal ligation can also help lower a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer. While those choices aren’t right for everyone, exercise is something all women can do to lower their risk. It’s one more reason to make regular exercise a habit for life!

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