Taller, Heavier Ovarian Cancer Risks

Ovarian cancer risks slightly higher in taller and heavier women

April 7, 2012 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

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(dailyRx News) Ovarian cancer is one of the most mysterious forms of the disease, because it's usually discovered quite by surprise. So any new understanding about the disease is important to know. An international study provides new clues.

Women who are taller and have higher body mass index ( BMI) are at increased risk for developing ovarian cancer, according to new research published April 3, 2012 in PLoS Medicine.

"If you continue to feel pressure in your abdomen for no apparent reason, see your doctor."

These are the findings of an international study, directed by The Collaborative Group on Epidemiological Studies of Ovarian Cancer, based in the University of Oxford.

More than 100 researchers around the world analyzed patient data from 47 epidemiological (cause of disease), involving 25,157 women with ovarian cancer and 81,311 women without ovarian cancer.

Researchers considered most of the available epidemiological information in the world.

They found that ovarian cancer risks increase with every two inches in height, regardless of 11 other factors including age and family history of the disease. 

For weight or BMI, risks depended on the woman's history of menopausal hormone therapy. Ovarian cancer risks increased only among women who had never had hormone therapy.

The collaborators summarize the findings in greater depth saying increased risks with increasing weight and BMI, "did not vary materially by women's age, year of birth, ethnicity, education, age at menarche, parity, family history of ovarian or breast cancer, use of oral contraceptives, menopausal status, hysterectomy, or consumption of alcohol and tobacco." 

Cancer Research UK. funded this research. The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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Review Date: 
April 6, 2012
Last Updated:
April 7, 2012