Weight As Risk Factor for Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer risk increased as weight increased

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Scientists continue to search for ways to reduce cancer risk, and a leading authority on the subject released a new report shining light on one possible culprit.

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) updated their 2013 report to reflect a statistically significant link between a woman’s weight and ovarian cancer.

The report shows that the risk of ovarian cancer may increase as a person’s body mass index (BMI) increases.

BMI is a measure of height and weight to determine if someone is overweight, underweight or a normal weight.

"Speak with a professional to determine a healthy weight for you."

This report was authored by Elisa V. Bandera, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Epidemiology at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

Dr. Bandera and colleagues looked at 128 population studies that considered how diet, weight and activity were linked to ovarian cancer.

These researchers noted that 25 of the 128 studies focused on weight and included four million women, of whom 16,000 had developed ovarian cancer.

The researchers found a 6 percent increase in ovarian cancer risk for every increase of five BMI points.

The BMI index is a formula that uses a person’s height and weight to determine how far a person’s weight deviates above or below what is considered normal. A BMI between 18.5 and 25 is a normal or healthy weight, while a BMI between 25 and 30 is typically considered overweight. A BMI of 30 or more is obese.

“This is an important finding,” said Dr. Bandera in a press statement, “because it shows a way for women to reduce their chances of getting ovarian cancer. There is so much we don’t know about preventing ovarian cancer, but now we can tell women that keeping to a healthy weight can help protect against this deadly disease.”

Dr. Bandera and team noted that approximately 14,000 women die from ovarian cancer in the US each year, and this cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death.

“These latest findings from the Continuous Update Project offer another reminder that our weight, and our lifestyle, play an important role in cancer risk for both women and men,” said Alice Bender, MS, RDN, the AICR Associate Director of Nutrition Programs. “This is really an empowering message. There are no guarantees, but adding activity into your day and healthy plant foods onto your plate are steps you can take today to reduce your risk of cancer and other chronic conditions as well.”

The authors noted that this report updates the 2013 findings and continued research is needed. Another update is expected in 2015.

This report was published March 11 by the American Institute for Cancer Research and World Cancer Research Fund.

Review Date: 
March 12, 2014
Last Updated:
March 13, 2014