Dietary intake and risk of ovarian cancer.





Related Monographs

Consumer Data:
Professional Data:


According to the National Cancer Institute, 1 in every 57 American women will develop ovarian cancer. There are several types of ovarian cancer. The most common form is called epithelial carcinoma, which begins on the surface of the ovary. Other types such as germ cell tumors or stromal tumors are less common. Some risk factors for ovarian cancer include family history, use of hormone replacement therapy or fertility drugs, age (more likely to occur in women over 50, but can occur in younger women), and history of other types of cancer. However, women who have had a hysterectomy have a lesser chance of developing ovarian cancer.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer may include nausea, frequent urination, abdominal pain, weight gain, weight loss, or abnormal vaginal bleeding. Conventional treatment of ovarian cancer can include surgery in which the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, and cervix may be removed. In other instances treatment may include chemotherapy and radiation.

A recent study conducted in Western New York examined dietary factors in ovarian cancer risk. This case-control study involved 124 cases of ovarian cancer and 696 control subjects. Dietary intake was assessed by a food questionnaire and the nutrient and phytochemical intakes were estimated by food composition data. The results showed that reduced risk of ovarian cancer was seen in those with higher nutritional intakes of dietary fiber, carotenoids (such as vitamin A, lycopene, lutein, etc), vegetables, poultry, and stigmasterols. Stigmasterols (a phytochemical) are chemicals derived from soybeans. The authors concluded that plant-based diets could possibly protect against ovarian cancer.1


1. McCann SE, et al. Risk of Human Ovarian Cancer Is Related to Dietary Intake of Selected Nutrients, Phytochemicals and Food Groups. Jun 2003;133:1937-42.