The Weighty Issue of Ovarian Cancer

Obesity and ovarian cancer may have only a small link

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) Loads of health problems have been linked to obesity in recent medical studies. Fortunately, ovarian cancer and obesity don't necessarily go hand-in-hand.

A recent review of 15 ovarian cancer studies looked for links between obesity and ovarian cancer.

The researchers found that obese women had a slight increased risk of the less common subtypes of ovarian cancer.

But no link was found between obesity in post-menopausal women and the most common ovarian cancer subtype, which is also the most dangerous.

"Ask your doctor how you can help prevent ovarian cancer."

Catherine Olsen, PhD, Senior Research Officer at Queensland Institute of Medical Research at the Cancer Control Group in Brisbane, Australia, led an investigation into the link between obesity and ovarian cancer.

For this study, the researchers reviewed 15 previous studies on ovarian cancer that included 13,548 ovarian cancer patients and 17,913 women without cancer for comparison.

Researchers looked at the following measures in each case:

  • Current body mass index (BMI)—a weight and height calculation (kg/m2)
  • BMI in young adulthood and lifetime peak
  • The specific subtype of ovarian cancer (borderline serous, invasive endometrioid, invasive mucinous and serous invasive)
  • Menopause status
  • The use of hormone replacement therapy during menopause

The researchers found that obesity moderately increased the odds of developing one of the less common types of ovarian cancer by 1.17 to 1.24 times per every extra 5 kg (11 pounds) the patient was over the obesity line. Less common types of ovarian cancer included borderline serous, invasive mucinous and invasive endometrioid.

Women who were obese throughout their lives showed an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Hormone replacement therapy did not increase ovarian cancer risks.

The authors concluded that, with a slight exception in pre-menopausal women, obesity did not appear to increase the risk of developing the more common, and more deadly, invasive serous ovarian cancer.

This study was published in February in Endocrine Related Cancer.

The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, the National Institutes of Health and international government health agencies helped support funding for this project. No conflicts of interest were declared.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 22, 2013
Last Updated:
February 25, 2013