Risk factors of ovarian cancer: an overview
A risk factor is anything that increases the chances of getting or developing a disease. While certain risk factors can influence the development of ovarian cancer, most of them do not directly cause the tumor to form. Having a risk factor, or even several risk factors does not mean that one will develop the disease. Researchers have discovered several risk factors that change a woman’s likelihood of developing ovarian cancer. The following are a few risk factors:
The risk of developing ovarian cancer increases with age. It is rare in women younger than 40, and most ovarian cancers develop after menopause. Most ovarian cancers are found in women between the ages of 50 and 60.
The chances of developing ovarian cancer is higher if a relative was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The risk increases when a mother, daughter, or sister has or had ovarian cancer.
It seems that obese women, i.e. those with a body mass index of at least 30 have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Women who have been pregnant have a lower risk of developing ovarian cancer than those who have not. Women who were pregnant and carried the child to full term before the age of 26 have a lower risk of developing ovarian cancer than those after the age of 35. Breastfeeding also lowers the risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Women who have used oral contraceptives (birth control) have a lower risk of developing ovarian cancer. The risk is lower the longer the pills are used.
Estrogen therapy and hormone therapy
Some studies have suggested that women using estrogens after menopause have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. This risk is higher in women who have taken estrogen alone for many years (at least 5 to 10 years).
Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome:
Inheriting mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes is linked to a higher risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 are also responsible for most inherited ovarian cancers.
PTEN tumor hamartoma syndrome
This syndrome, also known as Cowden disease, mainly affects the thyroid gland and the breast leading to thyroid cancer and breast cancer. However, women are also at an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer, which is caused by an inherited mutation in the PTEN gene.
Lynch syndrome is also known as hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer. Women with Lynch syndrome have a higher risk of colon cancer, stomach cancer, uterine cancer, and ovarian cancer.
Peutz-Jeghers syndrome (PJS)
People with PJS develop polyps in their stomach and intestine while they are teenagers. Due to this, they are at an increased risk of developing cancers of the digestive tract, and ovarian cancer.
Personal history of breast cancer:
If you have had breast cancer in the past, you are at an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. The risk of developing ovarian cancer is also high if you have a family history of breast cancer.