What causes ovarian cancer? ~ Health Guide

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What causes ovarian cancer?

Written by Mystic on Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The cause of ovarian cancer is unknown. There are some factors that appear to increase a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer. They are as follows:


The risk of developing ovarian cancer increases with age, with a higher incidence amongst women over 50.

Hormonal factors:

The hormones associated with pregnancy appear to have a protective effect with regards to ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is more common in women who have had no or few pregnancies. For the same reason, women who have taken the contraceptive pill (which contains hormones similar to those associated with pregnancy), appear to have a reduced risk of ovarian cancer.

Family history and genetic predisposition:

Some types of ovarian cancer have been associated with a family history of ovarian cancer, breast cancer, bowel cancer and cancer of the endometrium (lining of the uterus).

Faults in some genes, for example BRCA1 and BRCA2, which are often associated with breast cancer, are also known to be associated with ovarian cancer, as well as other cancers.


Ovarian cancer is more common amongst caucasian women who live in westernised countries with a high standard of living.


Lifestyle factors such as nutrition may increase one’s risk of ovarian cancer. Studies have shown a possible link between diet high in fruit and vegetables and a reduced risk of ovarian cancer(2). A diet high in fat has also been suggested as another risk factor though this has not been proven. There is also a possible association between alcohol and coffee and an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

The use of talcum powder in the genital area has also been suggested as a risk factor. The link between these factors and ovarian cancer has not been proven and further research into the causes of ovarian cancer continues in Australia and overseas.

It is important to note that many women who develop ovarian cancer do not have the above risk factors.

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