Research suggests that certain gene mutations are linked to ovarian cancer, so if you have a family history, you may want to talk to your physician about genetic testing to see if you are predisposed to this disease. There are also some steps you can take to increase your chances of preventing ovarian cancer.
A sedentary lifestyle can increase your likelihood of developing ovarian cancer, so it’s important to increase your level of physical activity. In that same vein, obesity is linked to a higher risk of ovarian cancer—women with a body mass index greater than 40 have a 60 percent higher likelihood of dying from cancer than women of normal weight. In addition, healthy diets high in fruits, vegetables and grains and low in saturated fat may also decrease your risk of developing gynecologic cancer (though other studies have shown no link between a healthy diet and ovarian cancer).
Birth control pills have also been linked to a reduction in the prevalence of ovarian cancer. In fact, women who use oral contraceptives for five years or more reduce their risk of ovarian cancer by 50 percent. Having at least one child also lowers a woman’s risk, as does breast-feeding for a year or longer.
A surgery called prophylactic oophorectomy can also be a means of prevention, especially for women genetically prone to ovarian cancer or otherwise at very high risk. This surgery removes the ovaries, and can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by as much as 95 percent. However, it also induces menopause. Tubal ligation (surgery to block the fallopian tubes, preventing conception) and hysterectomy (the removal of the uterus) are other preventative surgeries.