Published On: Wed, Feb 21st, 2018

Does Obesity Cause Ovarian Cancer?

Some risk factors for any type of cancer are out of control. For example, one cannot change their genetic history. However, many risk factors that surge the chances of developing cancer can be very well controlled.

ovarian cancer

Along with maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking is one of the best ways to keep the cancer risk away, says Dr Kaushal Yadav, Consultant, Max Institute of Cancer Care, Max Hospital, Gurgaon. Associated with the best cancer hospital in India, the doctor further adds that higher amount of body fat is linked to an increased risk of a number of cancers including breast cancer, liver cancer, kidney cancer, thyroid cancer, gastric cardiac cancer, pancreatic cancer and ovarian cancer. Not only cancer, but obese people are also at a higher risk of developing many other health issues including high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and more.

Obesity – the first thought that comes to the mind when we hear this word are those late-night TV commercials that sell anything and everything to convince morbidly obese people to embark on a weight loss journey. For many, it is a word that connotes an unhealthy body state. The fact is that excess body fat is not only unsightly to look at but also puts one atrisk of developing a health hazard that may even prove fatal.

How is Ovarian Cancer Associated with Obesity?

Women who have never used menopausal hormone therapy and have a higher BMI have a slightly increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. It affects the ovarian tissue of the reproductive system and is the 5th most common cause of deaths across the globe. Here’s how bodyweight contributes to cancer.


Overweight and obese women have chronic low-level inflammation. This inflammation, over the time, can damage DNA that can lead to cancer development. Inflammation also causes the pancreas to produce more insulin which can cause cells to divide more than usual. In some cases, these new cells can form cancerous tumors.


Excess amount of fat cells in the body can increase theproduction of estrogen, ahigher level of which is linked to ovarian as well as endometrial and breast cancer. In addition, fat cells also release a group of hormones known as adipokines which prevent or stimulate cell growth.

Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is also known as a ‘Silent Killer’ as symptoms do not often show up until the disease has reached its advanced stages. Early ovarian cancer symptoms include:

• Changes in the bowel movement – diarrhoea or constipation
• Frequent urination
• Pressure or pain in the pelvis

Advanced ovarian cancer symptoms include persistent fatigue, abdominal bloating, pain during sex, masculinization, and unintentional weight loss or gain. Symptoms that become persistent should be immediately brought into notice to an oncologist in any of the cancer hospitals in India for a timely diagnosis.

Obesity and Ovarian Cancer – What can be done?

One of the most important steps that one can take to decrease the risk of ovarian cancer is maintaining a healthy weight. This can be done by –

• Exercising moderately for 150 minutes or vigorously for 75 minutes in a week
• Consuming legumes, whole grains, non-starchy vegetables and moderate amount of animal protein
• Limiting alcohol to one drink a day
• Getting ample rest – fatigue leads to hunger and unhealthy snacking
• Avoiding packed fruit juices and sodas

Women can easily lower their risk of ovarian cancer by following these tips and lowering their BMI. Though these are not guaranteed methods of prevention, it is always a good idea to be a step ahead in theprevention of any disease.

About the Author

- Paul Linus is an eminent online journalist who has been writing news, features and editorials on different websites from across the world for about a decade.

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