Ovarian Cancer: A deadly disease you may not know much about

Thank you to ConsumerSafety.org for this guest post to educate
Mother’s Circle readers on ovarian cancer.

Ovarian Cancer Awareness | motherscircle.net
September is here! School is back in session, it’s sweater season again, and #PSL (pumpkin spice latte) is back! What could be better? The answer – teal! While September brings the start of fall, we also honor National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Walks and fundraisers will be happening all across the country to support the research and patients of this life-threatening disease. While getting involved or donating toward these efforts is truly wonderful, another simple way to mark the occasion and make a difference is to learn more about ovarian cancer and spread this important information to the women in your life who could potentially be at risk one day.

Every 23 seconds, a woman is diagnosed with ovarian cancer. In the United States alone, that’s over 22,000 women diagnosed per year. We can all agree that this statistic is scary. What makes it worse is that ovarian cancer is the 5th deadliest cancer for women, killing 14,000 women per year. It’s certainly not something to be taken lightly; however, by spreading awareness and knowledge, we can change that statistic!

So we’ve learned that ovarian cancer is both common and deadly. Now let’s look at why this cancer is so fatal. 85% of women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed in more advanced stages of the disease where treatment is more difficult and survival is less likely. The reason for these poor percentages is that ovarian cancer is extremely difficult to diagnose. The average woman sees her gynecologist once a year; at this visit, she will receive a breast exam and a Pap smear, which both check for cancer – breast and cervical respectively. She will not be tested for ovarian cancer. There is no standard test to diagnose this disease. A doctor can only make a final confirmation once a tumor biopsy is complete.

How then, can we protect ourselves, and how is ovarian cancer diagnosed? Ovarian cancer does have symptoms, however, they can be very subtle. Some symptoms include bloating, fatigue, menstrual changes, an upset stomach, frequent urination, and pelvic or abdominal pain. These symptoms are often misinterpreted as the result of a woman’s regular period or menopause. However, if a woman is in tune with her body and recognizes a change in her usual menstrual cycle, she can kick start an early diagnosis if she, in fact, has developed ovarian cancer. Don’t ignore the unexplained changes in your body or brush them off. Your body is sending you signals, and it’s imperative that you listen.

There are several other ways that a woman can lower her risk and protect herself from ovarian cancer. Pregnancy, breastfeeding, and oral contraceptives all lower a woman’s risk because they all reduce, prevent or regulate ovulation, preventing unusual activity in a woman’s ovaries. In fact, it’s been found that women taking “the pill” for five years or more can reduce their chances by up to 50%. Women can also reduce ovulation in their ovaries with gynecological surgeries like a hysterectomy or tubal ligation, though neither of these procedures should be done without careful thought and a doctor’s recommendation.

Another lifestyle factor known to correlate with ovarian cancer is weight. Studies have shown that women who are obese with a BMI over 30 have a higher risk for both ovarian cancer and heart disease. Doctors recommend eating a diet that includes vitamins A, D, & E along with sources of omega-3 fatty acids. A healthy diet combined with regular exercise can play a key role in helping you avoid dangerous diseases like ovarian cancer.

Environmental factors to avoid include any harmful or unnatural ingredients in or around your vagina. It may seem obvious; keep toxic products out of your woo-ha, but many products branded for feminine hygiene are just that – toxic! Studies and court jurors have recently found that a link between genital use of talc-based beauty products, such as baby powder, and ovarian cancer. Luckily, there are plenty of talc-free products on the market or available in your own DIY kitchen to replace those harmful ones.

This September, let’s dedicate the month to ovarian cancer awareness, the strong women battling this disease, and your own body. Take the time to listen and learn about your body. Before kids, husbands, and the bustle of adulthood, you two were pretty good friends. Let’s reconnect, and hopefully, prevent the dangers of ovarian cancer.

Please share this information with the women in your life,
and continue the positive awareness of the issue all month long.

Mission Statement:
ConsumerSafety.org strives to make information about recalls and safety-related news about drugs, medical devices, food, and consumer products accessible to everyone in a transparent, easily understandable way.

Bio:
As a Health & Safety Investigator for ConsumerSafety.org, Caitlin Hoff uses her background in Industrial Design and her passion for health and wellness to educate consumers. She strives to help people make smart decisions affecting their personal health and that of their families.

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